March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month. So I thought I would do my part and bring awareness to another awful autoimmune disease. I decided I wanted to cover the following topics in the blog. What is MS? Who gets it? What are the symptoms? How is it treated? And what can we do to raise awareness? So let’s jump right in.
Per the Mayo Clinic no one is really sure of the cause of MS. But it is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks its own tissues. “In this case the immune system destroys the myelin, which is the fatty substances that covers and protects the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.” MS is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, optic nerves (which control the eyes), and spinal cord. The destruction of the myelin causes reduced communication between the brain and the nerve pathways.
Due to the above noted destruction of myelin and the fact that in involves the nerves and the spinal cord. Common MS symptoms are: visual problems, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty with balance and coordination, and various levels of impaired mobility. More specifically MS can cause pain in the back or the eyes. Tremors in the extremities may also be present. They can have all sorts of problems with their muscles from cramping, to the inability to rapidly change motions, or could have involuntary movements, muscle paralysis, muscle rigidity, muscle weakness, problems with coordination, stiff muscles, clumsiness, muscle spasms, or overactive reflexes. It can also cause sensory issues like pins and needles, difficulty with taste, reduced sensation of touch, or uncomfortable tingling and burning. And can also cause issues with bowel and bladder control. This list is not all inclusive. There are a ton of symptoms that can be present in someone with MS.
It is estimated that about 2.5 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with this disease. This number can only be estimated because it is not a disease that the CDC requires physicians to report. Also because the symptoms can sometimes be so vague. Most people who are diagnosed with MS fall between the ages of 15 and 50. MS is not something you you can “catch” from someone who has it. Although it does seem to have a heridatry link. At this point there is no cure but researchers continue to try to find one.
Right now the main treatments for MS are physical therapy to treat the muscle and balance issues. A neurologist is usually the main dr to treat Ms and will do with immunosuppressive drugs to suppress the immune response that causes the condition. As well as treating the patient with steroids to treat some of the symptoms and hopefully slow the progression. It is also recommended that people with MS see a counselor of some kind to help deal with the changes in their functioning and changes in lifestyle they are dealing with.
Since there is no cure we all need to do our part to raise awareness. Simply because it can affect anyone. It doesn’t see gender or race. It’s simply a dysfunction of the persons immune system. We can raise awareness by getting involved with or donating to the MSAA. The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. They are the leading resource for those with MS. They have many functions. They provide resources to people with MS, they fund research for MS and education for those newly (and not so newly) diagnosed with MS. One thing we can all do easily is wear orange during the month of March to raise awareness. As orange is the awareness color for MS.
I have provided the link to the National MS Society. On that page there is more information about raising awareness and the things they are doing to do so. http://mymsaa.org/news/ms-awareness-month-2016
This was meant to be a brief but educational piece about MS and how we can raise awareness. I hope it opened your eyes a little on how many people are affected. And also give you an idea of how this disease affects those who have it. As well as provided you with resources to help raise awareness of this horrible disease.