What really is MS?

MS stands for Multiple Sclerosis which is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults, especially those between the ages of 20 to 40. MS is known as an auto-immune disease where the immune system of the body, particularly the white blood cells, attack the central nervous system, damaging the myelin sheath. This sheath protects the axons which carry messages between the brain and spinal cord. Therefore, once the axons are unable to deliver electrical signals properly, the behavior of the human body is altered.

Although, it is rare for children below 12 and adults above 55 to have this disease, certain cases have been reported. Even though, people with MS have to work harder to deal with this disease and incorporate it in their lives, it does not affect the normal lifespan of the person.

What are the symptoms of MS?

Normally, the symptoms of MS are various and differ among different people. The symptoms may even differ in the same person from time to time which is why it is difficult to categorize them or narrow them down.

Some of the most common symptoms of MS include fatigue, lack of coordination, loss of balance, problems with concentration, blurred vision, and in extreme cases paralysis and complete blindness. These symptoms may also come and go at times or may be present permanently for some people.

How many people in the world have MS?

According to a rough estimate, 2.5 million people around the world are suffering from MS, although the number may be higher. The reason for that is that for many people, diagnosis of this disease takes longer as well as the fact that many cases are also unreported.

What type of people get MS?

Just about anyone around the world can develop this disease and while the exact reason for each person developing this disease is not known, some factors that play a part are known. More women than men around the world suffer from this disease. MS is not considered to be hereditary; nevertheless, it is believed that genes of a person do play some part.

People who live in regions farther away from the equator are also more likely to develop MS as compared to people living closer to it. The reason for this is believed to be the differences in the exposure of Vitamin D in the differing regions. The most susceptible age for this disease is between 20 and 40 while below 12 and above 55 are rare exceptions. The occurrence of MS also differs in ethnic groups with whites suffering more from MS as compared to other ethnic groups.

How do the symptoms of MS tend to appear?

The symptoms for MS are very unpredictable. They are different for all people and if they are similar in multiple people, the way they manifest themselves will be different for those people. In fact, the same person with MS can experience different symptoms.

While the symptoms of one person could be related to their vision, another’s symptoms could be wholly related to their balance and walking. Sometimes, the symptoms for one person could disappear temporarily and they could gain the lost functions while for other people, the symptoms may be recurring with partial or permanent loss of function.

What causes these symptoms of MS?

The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. MS occurs when the immune system of the body, in the form of white blood cells, attacks the protective myelin sheath around the nerve fibers which carry important information between the brain and spinal cord. Lesions or inflammations are caused on these sites and when the brain does not get complete information or gets it inaccurate, the behaviors of the human body are not performed properly resulting in relapses or MS attacks.

Can MS cause permanent paralysis?

No. Most people with MS do not have a severe case of the disease and therefore, are able to walk on their own although, they may use a cane or any other aid. Only people with severe MS might not be able to walk or may get permanent paralysis.

Can I die from MS?

Usually MS is not considered a fatal disease because most of the cases are not severe and lie between the mild to moderate range. In this range, people can expect to live a lifespan that they would expect to live without the disease. Only when the disease has progressed severely can it become fatal or shorten one’s lifespan.

Can MS be cured?

Unfortunately, the disease does not have a permanent cure. But now there are different types of medication depending upon the classification of your MS that help to control your symptoms or to manage the course of your disease. Research in this field is underway to find not only more medication for controlling the disease but also for finding a permanent cure.

Is the disease contagious?

No, MS is not contagious at all.

Why is MS difficult to diagnose?

Due to the fact that the symptoms associated with MS are associated with other disorders as well, it can take a lot of time for the possibility of MS to get the physician’s attention. However, there are a number of tests and exams that can be performed to diagnose the disease with considerable assurance.

What types of medication can I use for MS?

A person diagnosed with MS should start medication that has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration and that is meant for your case of MS. These medicines may be able to help reduce the progressivity of the disease, lessen the frequency of the attacks and help control the symptoms.

Apart from medication, people suffering from MS can also use group therapy and other types of physical therapy to control their disease and live a normal life.