Multiple sclerosis is a complex disease and there is more to learn about this condition, which underscores the importance of raising awareness among people about it. The following are eight facts that you should know about MS.
- Anyone Can Get MS: MS affects around 350,000 people in the U.S. alone and more than two million people are affected by it worldwide. Although it is more common in women than men, and it occurs commonly in people between 20 years old and 40 years old, anyone of any age can get it. In fact, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, around 200 people are diagnosed with this condition every week.
- Four Types of MS: There are four types of MS - relapsing-progressive; secondary-progressive; and primary-progressive MS. People who have the RRMS have periods of remission between attacks, when the disease does not progress. Around 85 percent of people suffer from this type of multiple sclerosis. The progressive types of MS are more difficult to treat and manage. However, they are rare.
- MS Causes Vary: MS is a complex disorder that is caused by a combination of several factors. It can genetic or environmental. Possible triggers of this condition may include things like vitamin D deficiency, decreased sunlight, or viral infections. If one of your parent suffered from multiple sclerosis, it may also increase your risk of developing it.
- Some MS Symptoms Are Common, Some Are Not: Just as causes vary from person to person, so are the symptoms too. Generally speaking, MS can cause vision problems, imbalance, severe dizziness, numbness, muscle spasms, weakness, tremors, depression, speech problems and facial pain. Other MS symptoms include mental fogginess, fatigue or confusion.
- MS Can Flare and Relapse: MS flares may be common symptoms, such as numbness, fatigue, or tingling, which set off up when a person having MS is overtired or fighting off an infection. A relapse occurs when the disease causes new damage to the nervous system. Relapse symptoms that last for more than one day and include symptoms that are disabling can be treated. After treatment, these symptoms may go away completely. This is a period known as remission.
- MS Can Be Treated: The promising medical advances have made this disease treatable. There are a number of medications available today that are effective in reducing the symptoms and the progression of the disease.
- MS Medications Are Evolving: Although steroids are still used to treat MS relapse symptoms, there is a new category of medicines emerged over the last 20 years called disease-modifying drugs. These drugs are prescribed as soon as the problem is diagnosed. Medications called interferons that are injected directly into the body prevent immune cells from getting into the spinal cord and the brain. Newer drugs are also becoming available that have fewer side effects and can be taken orally.
- The Prognosis for People Having This Condition Is Improving: With the emergence of disease-modifying drugs, early treatment of people with MS has become possible. This has changed the prognosis of MS and except for rare cases of progressive disease, people with MS can expect to live full and normal lives with no drop in life expectancy. Although some people will need the help of a wheelchair or cane because of weakness, about two-thirds of people with MS never lose their ability to walk or become disabled severely.