What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

MS is a disease that essentially affects the central nervous and immune system nerves. It results in the communication between the brain and the body. The nerves eventually end up by deteriorating resulting in permanent damage. Overtime, basic body functions, vision, spinal cord and brain function may be affected. Testing and diagnosis of MS can be done by MRI, spinal tap, blood tests and visual observation by a specialist.

Early symptoms can be vast in nature and may include the following: As the MS progresses, one’s lifestyle can be affected and may require the assistance of mobility aids. Because MS causes balance and neuropathy of the feet which can make it difficult to walk, assistive walking aids may be needed. Bladder problems, hand control where eating is a challenge, slurred speech, or even paralysis may affect the individual.

There are 4 types of Multiple Sclerosis:
  1. Relapsing-remitting: The most common type is ‘relapsing-remitting’ which affects 85-90% of people who are diagnosed with MS. This type of MS results in flare-ups/episodes where the neurologic function worsens for a defined period of time. It will then go into remission where the progression stops progressing and is considered a recovery period—these symptoms can last for just days or expand into months. The remaining 10-15% of people who have MS, are divided between the remaining types of MS.
  2. Primary-progressive: those who are at the primary-progressive stage (progresses slowly and steadily with the condition worsening over time) and do not seek some type of treatment, 50% will progress to secondary progressive within a 10 year period.
  3. Secondary-Progressive: Like primary-progressive, this type does not get better with time. At the beginning of this stage, it can look more like relapsing- remitting, however, there is never recovery time. The MS symptoms are always there but flare-ups will eventually subside.
  4. Progressive-Relapsing: This type continues to worsen with acute flare-ups and sometimes, the patient does not recover—the disease continues to progress.
Exercising, proper diet, strength training, yoga, tai chi and meditation are fantastic ways to help the symptoms of MS.

Understanding the disease from the beginning can help the individual to remain active and delaying the progression of the disease. Fortunately, most people do not become severely disabled and death is rarely an outcome for those afflicted with this disease.

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