Multiple Sclerosis – MS

Multiple Sclerosis is a demyelinating disease that affects the central nervous system, brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The brain and spinal cord send signals to each other for body and brain functions. The body’s defense system attacks the myelin the fatty substance that protects the nerve fibres. When the myelin becomes damaged, this causes the tissue to become scarred.

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It is mostly younger people who develop the disease but older people can get MS. More women than men have the disease. There are four different stages of MS.

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Patients will have an attack on any part of the body or brain, resulting in a full recovery or partial recovery. Most MS cases are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Secondary progressive MS sets in after the first phase of relapsing-remitting MS when the disease gradually deteriorates.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

This is a slow deterioration of neurological functions from the beginning. How the disease progresses will vary and will stabilize with temporary improvement.

Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

This is the rare type of the disease. The patient will slowly deteriorate from the start of being diagnosed, and the disease will continue to develop without any remissions. Patients with more severe multiple sclerosis are at risk of developing osteoporosis and pressure sores.

What are the Symptoms?

There are many symptoms here is  a list of the most common ones:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Bowel and bladder dysfunctions
  • Vision impairment
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Pain
  • Emotional mood swings, sexual problems and depression

Symptoms Less Common:

  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Swallowing
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures
  • Respiration and breathing problems

How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated?

Drugs control most symptoms of the disease. Self-help is encouraged along with physiotherapy, counseling, and occupational therapy.  Diet and exercise are other benefits.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Most patients with milder forms of MS will manage to look after themselves.

It is the more advanced stage when matters need more consideration.  The doctor plays a vital role in helping the advanced patient to live as independently as is possible.

The home may need some alterations to accommodate particular needs, such as a ground floor toilet and bathroom. There is also the chairlift to consider.  If you own your home, selling then buying a bungalow or ground floor flat would be other options. The local council can also give more suitable accommodation for tenants with MS.

Joining a support group of the MS Society and getting involved with the disease itself is beneficial. Fund-raising for future research is another option.

Click here for another support help group.  There are many of these groups on the internet it all comes down to an individual’s personal choice.

For up to date information on research on MS click here.

© Jan Horner

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