What is Multiple Sclerosis and How Does it Affect Your Life?
Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is a lifelong disease that can completely disable the spinal cord and brain, also commonly referred to as the bodies central nervous system.
When an individual has Multiple Sclerosis, their nerves that communicate between their brain and the rest of their bodies system become deteriorated, damaged and could be permanently broken-down. Each person will have a different degree of damage to his or her nerves, causing their MS to be of different calibers.
There are four different types of Multiple Sclerosis that define the way the body responds to the disease over a prolonged period of time. The four types of MS are:
- Relapsing-Remitting MS, also known as RRMS, which is the most common form of MS. Individuals with RRMS will have periods of prolonged symptoms and complications of the disease, also known as relapses.
- Secondary-Progressive MS, also known as SPM, which defines symptoms of the disease worsening over time.
- Primary-Progressive MS, also known as PPMS, is when symptoms progress at a steady but slow rate over time with no changes.
- Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS) is rare but is defined by symptoms progressing at a steady but swift rate.
The only person who can formally diagnose an individual with a specific form of Multiple Sclerosis is a medical professional through various tests. When the following signs and symptoms are present, it is important to seek out medical attention.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of MS?
It is important to note that Multiple Sclerosis symptoms and signs will vary from person to person, as no two cases are exactly the same. The symptoms that an individual with MS will experience highly depends on the type of damage done to the nervous system and where the damage is. Common signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are:
- Slurred speech
- Increased fatigue or tiredness
- Double vision that lasts an abnormally long time
- Loss of vision, often times in one eye at a time
- Painful movement of the eyes
- Increased incoordination in movements
- Tingling sensation, often on one side of the body
- Numbness of limbs, also on one side of the body
- Trouble with bladder and bowel movements
It is imperative to seek out professional medical attention if you or your loved ones are experiencing the signs and symptoms listed above for an unidentified reason. Symptoms of MS will vary in severity depending on the type of the disease the individual has.
What Causes MS?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of Multiple Sclerosis is generally unknown. Researchers believe that general environmental factors may play a part in declining health , increasing the chances of humans to developing illnesses and diseases such as MS. Such environmental factors include: diet, exercise, tobacco and alcohol use and genetic factors.
Although the exact causes of Multiple Sclerosis are unknown, researchers do believe there is a direct correlation between the biological sex of an individual and their chances of developing MS. It is believed that 3 in 4 of MS patients are female, due to their range of hormones through out their lifetime.
Living with a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Living with a MS diagnosis can be a chaotic, stressful and foreign time for all parties involved. After a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, individuals may feel as though their life will never be the same as it was before their diagnosis. While they may be correct to a degree, people with MS should know that a happy life is possible while they are coping with the disease.
Assuming the individual is not suffering from severe MS complications and symptoms, a fulfilled life is absolutely possible through the proper treatment and a healthy environment. Treatment will vary depending on the type of MS that the individual has, as well as whether the person can handle injectable medication or oral medication. Treatment options for Multiple Sclerosis includes injectable medications such as beta interferons and glatiramer acetate. Oral medication for MS may include fingolimod, teriflunomide, dimethyl fumarate or mitoxantrone. Natalizumab is a medication that can delivered to the MS patient intravenously, if an oral or injectable medication is not an option due to rapidly progressive MS. The course of the disease will widely determine the type of medication, as well as the frequency of the doses.
After the person living with MS has a handle on their prescribed treatment plan, he or she can continue to live their lives happily while dealing with their diagnosis.
It is important that individuals with MS eat properly, exercise if cleared by their doctor to do so and understands the warning signs of a relapse or setback. It can also be beneficial to hire a therapist for the individual to work through his or her emotions surrounding their diagnosis, as well as an in-home caregiver (LINK HOME CARE BLOG) for assistance around their home.
With the proper support system, living with MS can lead to a happy, fulfilling and delightful life. It is important to remember that a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis does not define an individual, but should rather serve as motivation to live life to the fullest and to never take a moment for granted.