After a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis for you or a loved one there can often be a feeling of being overwhelmed with information regarding the disease and you can be left with a sense of confusion. The following is a brief description of the disease and some related information that could be of service to a sufferer or their family and friends. For more detailed information please contact your medical professional, physician, counselor or local support group.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis, commonly called MS, is chronic disease of the central nervous system. The name multiple sclerosis refers to multiple areas of scarring (sclerosis) that the disease causes to the Central Nervous System when the body’s own immune system attacks and damages the nerves. The cause of MS is still unknown but it usually affects people aged 20-40 years old and is more commonly found in women and people of European descent. In most cases MS does not affect life expectancy though sadly there is yet to be a cure for this serious illness.
What happens to an MS sufferer?
In some cases sufferers only experience mild symptoms while others will have relapses causing more damage to the nerve fibers in the body and the disability to worsen. MS can cause;
· hypoesthesia (changes in sensation)
· muscle weakness
· abnormal muscle spasms causing difficulty with coordination, balance and movement
· dysarthria (problems with speech)
· dysphagia (problems with swallowing)
· visual problems
· acute or chronic pain syndromes
· bladder and bowel difficulties
· cognitive impairment or depression.
What are the treatments available to MS sufferers?
Currently there is no cure for MS but there are many treatment options which can help to slow the progression of the disease and to control some symptoms, including muscle spasms, urinary problems, mood and behavior symptoms and fatigue.
Approximately 25% of MS sufferers will require a wheelchair and have other mobility issues. The daily life of someone who has Multiple Sclerosis can be made much easier by utilizing bed lifts, shower chairs, transfer systems, walkers and wall bars. A well planned exercise program started early in the course of the disorder as well as a living a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition and enough rest and relaxation can greatly benefit sufferers. Avoiding fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and illness will also assist.
Some MS sufferers will also benefit from therapy and talking to other people with MS in the form of support groups or internet forums.