Did you know that approximately one million people are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the United States? With March being “Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month,” all of us at Family Healthcare Associates want to do our part by sharing some key facts about this unpredictable disease. With so many of us living with MS each day, the more we know about it, the better we can help others live with it.
If you’re not completely sure what Multiple Sclerosis is, you’re not alone. It occurs when a person’s immune system attacks its central nervous system, which interferes with communication signals from the brain to the rest of the body. MS is not directly inherited through our DNA, so anyone can develop it, but what is tricky about MS is there is no single test to diagnose it (though an MRI is probably the best test available).
Multiple Sclerosis is not contagious, but some genetic as well as environmental factors (for example: a lack of Vitamin D and cigarette smoking) can make certain people more inclined to get it. It can be a very unpredictable disease because symptoms like fatigue, pain, numbness, tingling, blurry vision, weakness, lack of coordination, memory and concentration lapses can feel different for everyone, and they can even vary for one person (some symptoms may disappear completely in time, or get worse).
Most people are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis between the ages of 20 and 50. It occurs in most ethnic groups, but it tends to target Caucasians. Another curious fact is more than three times more women (than men) have MS, a figure that has increased over the past 50 years. Many complications due to MS are preventable if individuals suffering from the disease are simply aware of how to manage them.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS yet, but there are medications and therapies that can help manage symptoms, and reduce the frequency and severity of MS attacks. If you, or someone you know has Multiple Sclerosis we recommend you consult with one of our physicians at Family Healthcare Associates to develop a comprehensive plan.
Every day, Americans living with MS need our help; if you want to do your part to help find a cure, you can donate to an organization like the National MS Society.