Today is World MS Day!
It is believed roughly 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. Some say that number could be as high as 4 million if one takes into account the misdiagnosed and undiagnosed cases. There are approximately 400,00 diagnosed cases of MS in the United States, with an estimated 200 new cases diagnosed every week. MS strikes women twice as often as men, though men seem to progress in the disease faster than women. The average age of diagnosis is 30-40 years old, with symptoms starting between 20-40 years old. Diagnosis is often delayed because of the sporadic, unpredictable nature of the disease. Multiple Sclerosis can effect anyone, of any race, gender, or age.
There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating disease, believed to auto immune in nature, in which our immune system mistakes proteins within the myelin sheath around the brain and spinal cord as an invader to be killed, causing lesions and subsequent scarring where the attacks occur. To better explain the role of myelin, here is a favorite analogy of mine: Picture a plastic coated power cord, now scratch off some of the plastic. It may spark, it may work sometimes but not others, eventually once that exposed wiring rusts it stops working altogether. Now picture that coating is the protective layer of your brain, and your brain is the copper wiring. That is essentially what happens with Multiple Sclerosis.
Once the myelin is worn away, the brain's signals to the body don't work correctly. Because of this, virtually any and every part of your body could potentially be effected by the disease. Here are a list of some of the more common symptoms of MS:
Loss of balance
Numbness or abnormal sensation in any area
Problems moving arms or legs
Problems with coordination and making small movements
Tremor in one or more arms or legs
Weakness in one or more arms or legs
►Bowel and bladder symptoms:
Constipation and stool leakage
Difficulty beginning to urinate
Frequent need to urinate
Strong urge to urinate
Urine leakage (incontinence)
Uncontrollable rapid eye movements
Vision loss (usually affects one eye at a time)
►Numbness, tingling, or pain
Painful muscle spasms
Tingling, crawling, or burning feeling in the arms and legs
►Other brain and nerve symptoms:
Decreased attention span, poor judgment, and memory loss
Difficulty reasoning and solving problems
Depression or feelings of sadness
Dizziness and balance problems
Problems with erections
Problems with vaginal lubrication
►Speech and swallowing symptoms:
Slurred or difficult-to-understand speech
Trouble chewing and swallowing
►Fatigue is a common and bothersome symptom as MS progresses. It is often worse in the late afternoon and 70% of MS patients suffer from fatigue.
Statistically speaking, everyone will know at least one person with MS during their lifetime. If you're reading this blog you, you already do. Me.
Please help bring awareness to a greatly misunderstood and underestimated disease today, World MS Day. My prayer is by raising awareness maybe one day we'll even find a cure so no one has to sit in their doctor's office and hear the words "you have MS" ever again.