Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive disease of the nervous system that can cause severe, and sometimes debilitating, symptoms. Let’s take a look at some of the answers to frequently asked questions to help gain a better understanding of this mysterious and devastating disease:
How Does MS Work?
MS causes damage to the protective myelin sheaths surrounding the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. This causes interruptions in the nerve signals.
What Kind of Disease is MS?
MS is classified as both a neurological and autoimmune disease, because it is understood that the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheaths.
How Common is it?
MS relatively rare, afflicting an estimated 400,000 people
in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide. Like many autoimmune diseases, MS is much more prevalent in women than men. There are different types of MS, but the most common type is relapsing-remitting, where symptoms sometimes recede with the help of certain medication. MS appears to be most prevalent in more polar areas of the world (further north or south of the equator).
What Age Does it Usually Start?
MS is usually diagnosed in middle-adulthood but can occur or be discovered at any age, and for many, takes years to fully diagnose.
Are There Risk Factors for MS?
People with other autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to develop MS. It is suspected that MS is caused or triggered by a combination of genetic
and environmental factors such as certain viral infections or vitamin deficiencies.
What Are the Common Symptoms?
MS can have widely varying symptoms ranging from mild to disabling. Some of the main symptoms include
: fatigue, confusion or fogginess, depression, speech difficulty, dizziness, vision problems, numbness of the extremities, bowel or bladder dysfunction, inflammation, facial numbness and tingling, muscle spasms and pain. MS is usually cyclical, meaning it includes symptom flares followed by periods of better health (known as remissions).
Is MS Curable?
No, there is currently not a cure for MS, but medical researchers still strive to find one.
What Treatments Are Available?
Contrary to decades ago, there are many viable treatment options available today for MS including corticosteroid treatment and DMARD (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs) options that can really help alter the trajectory of the disease.
Are All MS Sufferers Disabled?
Even though some MS sufferers are wheelchair-bound, the majority of MS sufferers will not be significantly disabled.
How is it Diagnosed?
The diagnostic process of MS can be long and convoluted. It may involve years of testing and multiple different specialists. Some people get a quick, straightforward diagnosis but for many it can be a long, hard road. When diagnoses is made and treatment starts early in the disease, there will more likely be a better outcome.
Is MS a Terminal Disease?
No, MS is not a terminal condition, but it can cause many complications. People with MS live an average of 6-7 years less than the general population
Can You Get Pregnant if You Have MS?
Yes. MS does not usually interfere with pregnancy, and pregnancy doesn’t usually impact the course of the disease either way.
Thanks for visiting EMC, we hope we have answered any questions you may have had about MS!