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What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Kath Ibbetson
 


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There are many symptoms associated with MS which occur to a greater or lesser degree These symptoms can include:

1) Blurring or Double Vision
2) Patches of Body Numbness
3) General Weakness (usually one side of body)
4) Muscle Spasms
5) Fatigue
6) ‘Pins and Needles’ in extremities
7) Loss of Balance and Coordination
8) Cognitive (ability to think) difficulties
9) Overall Sensitivity to Extreme Heat or Cold
10) Loss of Sensation in Affected Extremity
11) Problems with urinary and bowel function

MS is a difficult disease to diagnose.

The symptoms are vague and widespread mimicking those of other diseases. This is a disease of the nervous system which damages the protective coating (myelin) around the nerve and is thought to be an autoimmune disease. As this coating is destroyed the nerves become less and less efficient at transporting messages because these messages “leak", become weaker and more erratic. When this happens it becomes more and more difficult to control movement or certain sensory activities in various parts of the body. Which nerves are damaged and to what degree varies widely so the corresponding loss of function varies widely. Slowly the myelin can rebuild and be repaired by the body but the repair is much slower than the rate of damage.

More Advanced Symptoms include:

1) Speech difficulty
2) Loss of *** Desire/function
3) Paralysis

At first, Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are Episodic (off and on). The symptoms usually last 1-3 weeks, then you go into ‘Remission’ for a few months. Some individuals may have one Episode and go into Permanent Remission. Others will gradually experience Progressive symptoms. As MS Progresses, your Remission time will have Residual (remaining) symptoms from your last episode.

MS cannot be caught. It is not an infectious disease but more women are diagnosed than men with a ration of 1.7 to 1 but woman are diagnosed earlier so the sex ratio is even greater below the age of 30. Men are most likely to experience their first symptom after the age of 40 but are also more likely to have the chronic progressive type. (see “The 4 Main Multiple Sclerosis Types")

What is the course of the disease?

This is a difficult question to answer as there is a high degree of individual variation in symptoms and speed of progression. However as a rough guide one can say that at any one time 1/3 of people with MS are experiencing no serious relapses,1/3 are having a distinct relapsing-remitting course and 1/3 are experiencing a chronically progressive course.

Furthermore 1/3 have serious disabilities and require significant everyday support and 1/3 require significant lifestyle adjustment to manage their lives.

MS is not a fatal disease in itself and the improvements in healthcare over the past 50 years for this group have seen an increase in life expectancy and quality of life.

Kath Ibbetson has MS and was diagnosed in 1995. She qualified as a pharmacologist and then worked in computerised drug databases for 12 years before her health prevented her from working further. She has a BSc, a diploma in aromatherapy and a certificate in counselling. She remains committed to holistic health care.

Find out vital info about multiple sclerosis at This Site .

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