7 Multiple Sclerosis Facts You Should Know

By: Researcher Taymur

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects your nerves. It’s an autoimmune disease as well. This means the defenses of your body against malfunction of the disease and start attacking your own cells.

Your immune system attacks the myelin of your body with MS, which is a protective substance covering your nerves. The unprotected nerves are damaged and can’t work with healthy myelin as they would. The nerve damage results in a wide range of symptoms that differ in severity.

Read on to learn about MS for 7 key facts.

1st is its a chronic condition

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition, meaning it will last forever and there is no treatment for it. That said, it is important to know that the illness is not terminal for the vast majority of people with MS. Most of the world’s 2 million people with MS have a standard life expectancy. A rare few may have such severe complications as to shorten their lives.

While MS is a lifelong condition, it is possible to manage and improve many of its symptoms with changes to treatment and lifestyle.

2nd is it has varied symptoms

There is a long list of possible signs of MS. This causes tingling and numbness, issues of vision, problems of balance and flexibility, and slurred speech.

There is no such thing as a “typical” symptom of MS because it is different for each person to experience the disease. The same symptoms may often come and go, or you may recover a lost function, such as control of the bladder. The erratic symptom pattern has to do with nerves that assault the immune system at any given time.

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3rd is MS has relapse and remission

Many people seeking treatment for MS are experiencing relapses and remissions. A relapse is when the symptoms flare up. Also called exacerbations are re-appearances.

Remission is a time when you don’t have any disease symptoms. For weeks, months, or in some cases years, a remission may last. But remission doesn’t mean you don’t have MS medications anymore. MS drugs may help you get into remission, but at some stage you still have MS. Symptoms are likely to return.

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4th is there’s a cognitive side of MS

The nerve damage MS can also impair the critical thinking and other cognitive (mental) skills. It is not uncommon for people with MS to have memory problems and find the right words for their own language. Some effects of cognition can include:

  • impaired problem-solving skills
  • trouble with spatial relations
  • inability to concentrate or pay attention

Often cognitive issues can lead to frustration, anxiety, and anger. These are normal reactions that can be controlled by the physician.

5th is MS is a silent disease

MS is labeled as a “silent disease” or “invisible disability.” Many people with MS look no different from someone without it because some of the symptoms are not visible, such as blurred vision, sensory problems, and chronic pain. Someone with MS may need special accommodations though they don’t have mobility issues and seem to be “normal.”

MS is often considered a silent disease because the condition continues to progress even during remission. Sometimes this is referred to as MS’s “silent development.”

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6th is it helps to stay cool

Experts advise to remain cool whenever possible for people with MS. Heat sensitivity is a serious issue which sometimes causes symptoms to worsen. You may have a surge in symptoms from:

  • fever or illness
  • hot baths or showers
  • hot weather
  • overheating from exercise
  • sun exposure

To keep cool, use fans and air conditioning, cool drinks, and ice compresses. Wear lightweight fabric layers that can be easily removed. A cooling jacket can help as well.

It is important to note that while you may have a heat-related relapse, hot temperatures do not lead to faster progression of MS.

7th is Vitamin D plays a role

Evidence has shown a link between vitamin D and MS. The nutrient can serve as a buffer against MS and can lead to fewer relapses for people who have the disease already.

Sunlight allows the body to produce vitamin D, but sun exposure can also lead to heat-induced relapses. Less harmful vitamin D sources may include fortified milk, orange juice, and some cereals for breakfast. Some known sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, and eggs.

Resources

10.17712/nsj.2015.4.20150357

msif.org/about-ms/symptoms-of-ms/cognition-and-emotional-changes/

nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/faqs-about-ms/index.aspx

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