What is Multiple Sclerosis?
This March, it is important to recognize and raise awareness for a condition that affects over 400,000 people in the United States: Multiple sclerosis (often abbreviated MS).
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the body’s central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as the level of vitamin D your body is able to absorb. It is classified as an autoimmune disease because people with MS suffer from their own body’s immune system attacking the nerve fiber’s protective coating, called myelin. Myelin allows neurons to send electrical signals throughout the body. When the myelin is damaged, its scar tissue interferes with how the brain communicates with the body. The name “multiple sclerosis” literally means “many scars” (National MS Society).
MS is sometimes called a “snowflake disease” because no two MS patients are alike. There can be over 50 symptoms of varying severity. A person living with MS will typically experience a numbing or tingling sensation in various parts of the body, which can cause issues with balance, coordination, and muscle strength. Muscle spasms and stiffness are also symptoms and can be extremely uncomfortable for MS patients. The intense pain is often described as a burning or stabbing sensation in the face, legs, feet and hands. Because of this pain and discomfort, it can take a person with MS up to five times more energy to complete even the simplest task.
Other symptoms of MS include: impaired vision, bladder problems, constipation, sexual dysfunction, and speech difficulties. It is also important to acknowledge the mental stress this condition can create. Depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction are common and should be treated just as seriously as physicals symptoms.
Among the MS community, you may be surprised to learn that several well-known celebrities are silently battling this condition: Jack Osbourne, Montel Williams and Ann Romney, just to name a few.
While disease-modifying therapies are available for the relapsing forms of MS (RRMS and SPMS), scientists are still struggling to develop an effective treatment for the progressive forms of MS. So now, especially during the month of March, be sure to do your part to get educated and raise awareness. For more information on MS, please visit the National MS Society.
Remember, if you’re taking any medications for MS, and need help affording them, click on the “Get Your Free Card” link or text CARD to 95577. The card is available to everyone at any time. For more information about how the free prescription discount card works, check out our video: wtree.us/video
Originally Posted: 3/4/2015
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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