Living with Multiple Sclerosis: A Complete Guide
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a health condition that affects the central nervous system, mainly the brain and the spinal cord.
MS is unpredictable, because its cause is still unknown. However, most scientists believe the disease is triggered by environmental factors in people who are genetically predisposed to MS.
Often disabling, this disease disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and also between the brain and the rest of the body. As result, MS affects the senses, movements and reaction capabilities of those who suffer from it.
Symptoms can range from relatively benign to somewhat disabling, to devastating. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS vary from person to person.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Also, there is a higher incidence among women; about two-to-three times higher than in men.
HOW DOES MS WORK?
In MS, the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system. Specifically, it attacks myelin, a substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, and the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue, known as sclerosis, giving the disease its name.
When any part of the myelin cover or the nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain, and through the spinal cord, are distorted or interrupted. As result, it produces a wide variety of symptoms.
MS is thought to be triggered in genetically-susceptible people by a combination of one or more yet-to-be-determined environmental factors.
People with MS typically experience one of four types of the disease: progressive-relapsing (PRMS), relapsing-remitting (RRMS), primary progressive (PPSM), or secondary progressive (SPMS). Depending on the type of MS a patient has, the symptoms experienced can be mild, moderate or severe.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MS?
Here is a short list of the most common symptoms of MS:
- Abnormal sensory feelings
- Vision problems
- Walking problems
- Lack of coordination and balance
For more detailed information about early warning signs and symptoms, download our guide, “Living with Multiple Sclerosis: A Complete Guide” below.
WHAT MS MEANS TO YOU
If you have MS or care about someone who does, you know that it can be a frustrating and confusing condition. Symptoms can change from one hour to the next. Frequently, you can’t tell whether a symptom is due to MS or another condition, such as a virus, infection or hormone imbalance.
MS can complicate your life. Symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and cognitive difficulties (which affect memory, perception and problem-solving) can make it difficult to function in everyday life at home and at work. MS’ unpredictability makes it even more of a challenge, hindering your ability to make plans and stick to a schedule.
If you have struggled to get diagnosed, you are not alone. Some MS patients are diagnosed soon after the onset of the illness. However, for others it has taken years for doctors to identify the cause of the perplexing symptoms that wax and wane.
LIVING WITH MS
MS is an incurable, life-long illness that can be variable and create uncertainty in the day-to-day lives of patients. However, although having the disease is out of your control, you can control how you live with it—that is, the choices you make and which can have a significant impact in your quality of life.
Traditional medical treatment, alternative medicine and supportive care can relieve MS symptoms and delay the disease’s progression.
Special Care Pharmacy offers specialty medications that can control MS symptoms and sometimes reduce the severity of the disease. Special care Pharmacy also supports MS patients with highly personalized care and a variety of services.
There are other things you can do to help yourself. Education is key. Learn about MS—what it is, how it works, how to treat it. Maintaining a positive outlook and following wellness techniques will help you get to a healthier lifestyle that leads to a better quality of life.