What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple Sclerosis, better known as (MS), is an autoimmune, demyelinating, central nervous system disease; affecting more than 350,000 people every year. MS is primarily diagnosed in people between the ages of 20-50 years old. However, this debilitating disease can affect people at all ages. MS affects the Caucasian race twice as common as in other races and often occurs more frequently in females than males. In this condition, the components of the Central Nervous System (CNS) are broken down and degenerate. This results in scar tissue and plaque formation in the spinal cord and brain.
What are the signs of this devastating disease?
Myelin is a substance that covers the nerves is responsible for nerve conduction and maintains nerve healthiness. In MS, myelin disintegrates from the inflammation process and the end product of all of this is the slowing down of nerve conduction. When nerve conduction slows down, the nerves are damaged over time and the entire Central Nervous System (CNS) is compromised.
The effects of CNS compromise exhibit the following symptoms:
- Difficulty walking
- Coordination and imbalance due to muscle weakness
- Vision problems which include blurry vision, patchy vision and/or color changes due to optic neuritis
- Impaired memory
- Inability to write
- Speech difficulty
- Muscle spasms, numbness to extremities
- Tiredness and weakness
More than 50% of all people with MS will possibly develop:
- Mood swings (laughing and crying)
- Attention deficit disorder (difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Memory loss
What causes MS?
As of today, there is no known exact cause of MS. However, there is a theory that a viral infection triggers the cells of the immune system to believe that myelin is an invader and as a result attacks and destroys the myelin cells (autoimmunity).
What are the types of MS?
There are four types of MS and these types are characterized upon the progression of the disease itself.
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS): Characterized by the relapsing of symptoms followed by remission (periods of recovery). This is the most common type of MS, affecting approximately 80% of people with MS.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): Often develops in people with relapsing-remitting MS. But in this type there are only partial recoveries and the disability does not fade away between cycles. Instead it progressively worsens until a steady progression of disability replaces the cycles of attacks.
- Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS): This type progresses slowly and steadily from its onset without any periods of remission and there is no decrease in the intensity of symptoms. Approximately 15% of people who have MS have this type.
- Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS): This type is relatively rare type of MS with people experiencing both a steadily worsening symptoms and attacks during periods of remission.
What is the treatment for MS?
There is no cure for MS, not yet. However medical researchers are working quite hard in this area to hopefully find a cure. In the meantime the treatment for MS involves managing the symptoms before permanent damage occurs. A treatment plan for MS should consist of medications, physical and occupational therapy as well as experimental therapies. The four main objectives of the treatment plan are to diminish the frequency of neurological attacks, shorten the recovery time, and inhibit disease progression, and relief of complications and/or the side effects.
- Common drugs and treatment for MS:
- Interferons: Controls the immune system by protecting it against viruses and other invaders.
- Disease-modifying drugs (DMDs): Inhibit the attack of myelin from the immune system.
- Corticosteroids: Decrease inflammation and reduce the activity of the immune system.
- Monoclonal antibody: Prevent immune cells from attaching to other cells.
- Chemotherapy: Destroys abnormal cells.
- Immunomodulation drugs (oral medication): Decrease the inflammatory process.
- Muscle relaxants: Decrease muscle spasms.
- Anticonvulsants: Act as pain relievers.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Decrease inflammation around the nerves.
Where in the Atlanta area can I find treatment for MS?
In the Atlanta area there are several centers that specialize in treating MS. A few are listed below:
- Emory Healthcare
- The Shepherd Center
- The Multiple Sclerosis Center of Atlanta
- The Atlanta Neurologist Doctors for Multiple Sclerosis
- Multiple Sclerosis Holistic Treatments (Alternative medical treatment approaches)
If you want to get involved with finding a cure for MS:
“Walk to Create a World Free of MS”, April 26, 2014.
No there is no known cure for MS yet but we must remain hopeful and support our medical researcher’s efforts in diligently seeking a permanent remedy for this debilitating disease. We must never give up and continuously believe in the wonders of medical science. If you, a loved one and/or someone you know has MS or may be exhibiting symptoms of MS, reach out and get the support you need. And if you, a loved-one, and/or a friend did not have health insurance previously and is in need of medical treatment, the Affordable Healthcare Act, known as Obamacare is now a law and at your assistance. The good thing about this healthcare reform is that even individuals with prior medical conditions are eligible for this medical benefit. Now there is no excuse! All you’ve got to do is take the 1st step forward; the rest will fall into place. Reach out and get the help you need now!