Multiple Sclerosis a life-long chronic disease. Multiple Sclerosis signifies the following: “Multiple” refers to the many areas of inflammation and demyelination that occurs over time. “Sclerosis” means scarring. MS is an autoimmune disease. In MS, the immune system attacks the body’s myelin. Myelin is a fatty protein that acts as an insulating matter for nerves. When myelin becomes damaged (demyelination), messages from the brain and spinal cord get “short-circuited”. A description of an exacerbation is when inflammation occurs in various areas of the body. When this occurs, symptoms worsen and at times, new symptoms develop.
MS is generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Because MS is unpredictable, symptoms, progress, and the severity of MS is different in each person. There are disease-modifying treatments available to help slow the progression of disability as well as reduce the patient’s annual exacerbation rate.
Who gets MS?
Twice as many women as men have MS. There is no evidence that MS is directly inherited but is there is considered a pre-disposition to the illness among family members.
How many people have multiple sclerosis?
Approximately one third of a million Americans.
What are the typical symptoms of MS?
Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and may include numbness, fatigue, impaired vision, balance and muscle coordination problems, tremors, bladder and bowel problems, cognitive impairment, difficulty walking, and mood swings.
What causes MS symptoms?
Inflammation of the myelin. When myelin is damaged or destroyed, scars form thereby short circuiting nerve impulses.
Is MS fatal?
MS is not a fatal illness. Life expectancy for those living with MS is normal or near normal life expectancy.
Does MS always cause paralysis?
The majority of people living with MS do not become severely disabled. Two-thirds of people with MS remain ambulatory with or without an aid.
Is MS contagious?
No, MS is not contagious.
Can MS be cured?
No, however, there are disease-modifying therapies available that have been shown to alter the course of the disease.
What medications and treatments are available for MS?
Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, and Rebif.