Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
As we enter the month of March, it is essential to recognize it is multiple sclerosis (MS) month. Like any disease understanding the symptoms, causes, risk factors and complications are vital to understanding the impact a condition like this will have on you or your loved ones.
MS is a disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) that can lead to disabling side effects. It involves the immune system attacking the protective sheath that covers the nerve fibers, resulting in communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. After some time the disease causes the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged causing some patients to lose the ability to walk on their own or at all. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease and if you exhibit any of the following symptoms, it is recommended you see a doctor.
• Prolonged double vision
• Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time and pain during eye movement
• Numbness or weakness in limbs, typically occurring on either side of your body at once
• Tingling or pain in parts of your body
• Electric-shock sensation when bending your neck or with other neck movements
• Lack of coordination or unsteady gait
• Slurred speech
• Problems with bowel and bladder functions
Most individuals with MS experience periods of symptoms or relapses over periods of days, months and in some cases years and usually improve partially or entirely. Relapses are followed by quiet periods of remission. Symptoms typically progress into problems with mobility and gait. Some individuals will experience primary-progressive MS, which is gradual onset and steady progression without any relapses.
• Age: Most commonly affects people between 15-60 years of age
• Sex: Women are twice as likely to develop MS
• Family history: If you have an immediate family member with the disease you are at a higher risk of developing the disease
• Infections: viruses such as Epstein-Barr are linked to MS
• Race: Most vulnerable are Northern European descendants, least likely are people from Asian, African, Native American decedents
Complications, individuals may also develop include the following:
• Muscle stiffness/spasms
• Paralysis of the legs
• Problems associated with bladder, bowel or sexual function
• Mood swings and forgetfulness
If you are a WorldCare member and have diagnosed with MS and would like a Medical Second Opinion contact WorldCare.