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Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (skluh-roh-sis)
noun Pathology
Abbr.  MS

: a chronic degenerative autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, characterized by patches of demyelinated and scarred tissue around the nerves in the brain and/or spinal cord. Associated especially with partial or complete paralysis, partial blindness, slurred speech, and jerking muscle tremor of multiple body parts.

Your Life Begins To Change

It all begins with..., one day you're walking at home or work and then your leg gives out and you fall. You may have these strange spots in your eyes that never seem to go away even when you clean your glasses. Your arm feels like it has fallen asleep again, or you seem to be tired all of the time and can't get your energy back. It could be that your speech is slurred and you haven't had anything to drink in a week or two, or it's the middle of summer and you thought you were going to get that yard work done, instead you feel wiped out and have to rest. Then your arms and hands shake or tremor uncontrollably, or one of another hundred things could be happening. It's time for you to go see a doctor.

Then you see a doctor, and then a neurologist, and have some wonderful tests done to rule out some conditions and then to verify one. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will reveal if there is any scarring and then a lumbar puncture or spinal tap will provide you with confirmation. You are then presented with multiple sclerosis (MS) and it's the answer, the reason, and the cause. What is this horrible thing and what's it doing to you? What will become of you and your future? Where will this thing take you and how bad will it get?

Nobody can answer why this is happening or how they may have gotten it. And like so many other diseases, there really isn't much that you can do about it. It's not like a sore throat that just goes away over time. There is no miracle drug that can end it. There is no vaccine to protect someone or their children from it. There isn't even the knowledge of was it really is or what causes it. There is no single answer or definition that can describe all that it really is and all that it can do to a person.

Now a definition can't describe or even come close to explaining what MS is and all that it can do. MS is there attempting to influence somebody's life, somebody's future, and will always be somebody's constant companion. MS is essentially when a person's body is waging a war upon itself - and that person could be you.

You're Given Hope

You are informed that there are four different types or clinical cources of MS. Each of the four clinical courses can range from mild, moderate, or severe. It's all, however, just a degree of the same thing, you have MS. It's kind of like being pregnant, either you are or you aren't, how far along is the only variable.

Since MS is a chronic disease, so some amount of progression will most likely occur. On the bright side, around 80% of those with MS have relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). However, you can also have progression while staying within your current clinical course. When progression increases in frequency, duration, severity, etc..., your clinical course may change.

Prior to the mid-1990's, when someone was diagnosed with MS, it was generally felt that there was not much that could be done to keep it at bay. But now, a number of medications have been approved and the results look really good. Doctors are now placing patients on the medications as soon as they are diagnosed. As with any illness, early treatment is the key to slowing down the progression and that is what they are wanting for you. Unfortunately, slowing it down is the best option at the current time. But every step that's taken with every new medication, brings us that much closer to a time when MS can be stopped, reversed, or even cured.

There is no known way to prevent MS or its attacks and until its cause is discovered, this is unlikely to change. Good nutrition, adequate rest, a good outlook, and daily exercise should maintain or hopefully improve your quality of life and possibly improve of your symptoms. On that note, the avoidance of stress, heat, and extreme physical exertion may also help your quality of life and reduce symptoms for those who are affected by it.

It's important to know that you can no longer afford to burn the candle at both ends. It's important that you make that candle last as long as you can, because it's your only one and can't be replaced. You don't have to stop what you do, but rather become careful with your choices and mindful of the consequences. Just like when you are in your 40's or 50's, you can't and probably shouldn't act as if you are 18 again, whether or not you have MS. You can, however, still have a good time and enjoy life.
Multiple Sclerosis - A Summary
MS is a potentially debilitating disease in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers the nerves in the central nervous system (CNS). This interferes with the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Ultimately, this may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that's not reversible.

MS is a complex disease that is relatively unpredictable in its course, and whatever that course may be, it will differ for every person affected by it. MS affects multiple domains including physical, cognitive, and psychological functions. Upon examination, it requires both subjective and objective evaluations to determine the extent of damage that has been inflicted upon its victims because with this disease, there is more than meets the eye.

MS isn't a new disease, but rather newly understood. Its effects on the brain were described in the 1830's, and it was identified as a distinct clinical entity in the 1860's. Writings from the middle Ages appear to describe individuals with the symptoms of this condition.

MS is a disease that affects far too many people worldwide and is the most common neurological disorder of young adults. Depending on the source, it's thought that there are around 400,000 to possibly 500,000 people in the U.S. with MS, with 200 more people diagnosed every week, and 2.5 million people worldwide with this disease. Most of those people that are diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 50 with women being affected 2 to 3 times more than men. It occurs twice as often among people with northern European ancestry (Caucasian), but most all other races are still affected significantly.

MS has been the leading cause of nontraumatic morbidity of the CNS in that 20 to 50 year old age group and it needs to be understood that anyone can get MS. It doesn't care what race you are, what sex you are, where you live, how rich or poor you may be, how nice of a person you are, or how well educated you may be. It doesn't care if you are the healthiest person alive or have been stricken with numerous other diseases. It's a disease that is ready to strike anyone, anywhere, and at anytime.

Regarding ethnicity, studies of African-American patients with RRMS suggest that the disease takes a more aggressive course and is clinically less heterogeneous in these patients than in Caucasian patients. The researchers have noted higher levels of antibodies in the African-Americans' spinal fluid, but they can't say if this is a direct cause. The odds or statistics may or may not be on your side, but that doesn't really matter when you are the one affected by MS. Once it strikes, you are now one of many in a growing statistic and it will become very personal to you.

Some studies feel that people are predisposed to this disease, some feel that the environment is the cause, some feel that it's genetics, and then it could be a combination of all three, but nobody knows for certain. The trigger that could possibly activate it may never be found, but once it starts on its path of destruction, the course you have to chart is one to fight back with any and all resources available.

There are many choices in drug therapy now and others currently in clinical trials. Prior to any of these drugs being available, the effects of this disease were non-stop and the damage was severe. With the current drugs now available, there is at least a fighting chance against it. Just like with any disease or enemy, if you don't fight back with all that you have, you will end up losing the battle and possibly the war.

MS is a chronic disease meaning that it will progress and can't be stopped. The rate of progression can now partially be controlled with the available disease modifying medications. Hopefully for everyone affected, that rate is as slow as possible. Each type is a worsening of the disease and when it reaches the next course, there is no turning back. That's why early detection and diagnosis is so important.

If left untreated, it's essentially like a cancer. MS wants to spread out and invade, and then it will take away a little piece of someone, bit by bit.

All the information contained in this website is strictly to provide information on a topic that can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to understand. There are many websites that have a large amount of information regarding MS, research, medications, etc..., and we have provided links to many of those sites in our Resources and Medications sections. Many of the sites are "specialty sites" in that they target a specific topic or item of interest that can provide more detailed information. Other sites are more broad in their scope and provide information of a variety of topics and specifics.