What to Know about Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most prevalent neurological issues that young adults face today. Recent statistics indicate that there are currently over 400,000 young adults throughout the United States that suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. Approximately 200 people are diagnosed with this condition every week in the U.S.
Although more women than men get diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the condition does affect both genders. Additionally, while the average age of diagnosis is between 20 and 40 years, anyone of any age group can develop Multiple Sclerosis.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is a long-lasting neurological disease that normally strikes in young adulthood. This means that the disease affects the brain, spinal cord, and nerves in various locations of the body.
Multiple Sclerosis can affect each patient to varying degrees. Some individuals may experience mild symptoms that require no treatment or intervention. Others may have serious effects that interfere with many aspects of their daily life.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Since Multiple Sclerosis affects neurological functions within the body, the disease creates very specific signs and symptoms. Not all patients will experience all of these symptoms. Additionally, the severity of which symptoms are experienced can vary a great deal.
The following signs and symptoms are common with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis:
- Difficulty walking properly.
- A feeling of extreme tiredness or exhaustion.
- Muscle spasms or weakness of the muscles.
- Blurred vision or double vision from ocular nerve damage.
- Tingling and numbness of various parts of the body.
- Poor control of the bladder and bowels due to nerve damage.
- Pain in various body locations.
- Issues with focus or memory.
As mentioned earlier, Multiple Sclerosis may not affect you the same way it affects someone else. It is normal for patients to experience varying degrees of symptoms.
In some cases, a patient will not even require any form of treatment if their symptoms are mild enough to not affect their daily functioning. In other cases, a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis may start off mild and eventually advance to a more serious and life-altering problem.
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
At the current time, medical professionals are not entirely sure what causes some individuals to develop Multiple Sclerosis. There are several issues that can play a role in increasing someone’s risk for developing this condition — known as risk factors.
Risk factors for the development of Multiple Sclerosis are:
- Individuals between 15 and 60 years old are at the highest risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis.
- Women are almost twice as likely to experience Multiple Sclerosis than men are.
- There does appear to be at least some genetic components to Multiple Sclerosis, so a family history of the disease can influence your risk of developing it.
- Some research indicates that specific viral infections, including Epstein Barr, can be a precipitating factor in the development of Multiple Sclerosis.
- White individuals, especially those descended from Northern European, are at an increased risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis.
- Autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, can increase an individual’s risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis.
If you have any of the above-mentioned risk factors, don’t despair. The overwhelming majority of the population who experiences these risk factors will still never develop Multiple Sclerosis. However, these are the factors that appear to influence risk the most.
Common Treatment Options for Multiple Sclerosis
Currently, Multiple Sclerosis is an incurable neurological disease. Even though it cannot be cured, there are several drug therapies that are used to help patients control their symptoms and have an improved quality of life.
The following are a few of the most commonly used treatment options for the control of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. These drugs may slow down and prevent further nerve damage, thus relieving or preventing a worsening of symptoms associated with the disease. These drugs are:
- Beta interferon drugs, such as Avonex and Rebif.
- Daclizumab or Zinbryta
- Mitoxantrone or Novantrone
- Dimethyl fumarate or Tecfidera
- Teriflunomide or Aubagio.
Medical professionals also often prescribe steroid-based medications that can lessen the frequency and intensity of Multiple Sclerosis attacks. When combined with some of the treatment medications mentioned above, this dual combination can be very effective at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers.
Alternative Remedies for Multiple Sclerosis
In addition to recommended prescription medications and steroid treatments, many Multiple Sclerosis patients seek alternative therapies to help them control their symptoms. The following are the most common alternative remedies that may offer additional relief to Multiple Sclerosis patients.
- Regular exercise can help reduce painful muscle spasms by making the affected muscles stronger.
- Vitamin D has been shown to possibly reduce or at least slow down the progression of the disease in some people.
- Since stress can trigger a worsening of symptoms in some people, relaxation exercises and techniques can also be beneficial. Yoga, Tai Chi, various forms of meditation, deep breathing techniques, and even massage can provide benefits for some Multiple Sclerosis patients.
- Acupuncture and acupressure techniques can also sometimes reduce painful muscle spasms and cut down on the amount of pain some patients experience.
Diet Tips for Managing Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
While there is no one specific diet that all Multiple Sclerosis patients should follow, it stands to reason that a healthier individual will be better equipped to deal with the effects of Multiple Sclerosis.
Therefore, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can improve the overall functioning of the body, resulting in a better degree of control over MS symptoms. A nutrient-rich diet centered around fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein can sometimes increase the time period between active MS attacks and decrease the severity of the attacks experienced.
Upcoming Medical Innovations for Treating Multiple Sclerosis
Researchers and medical professionals are constantly looking for more treatment therapies to assist those suffering from conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis. Ongoing research is aimed at helping medical professionals gain a better understanding of what causes Multiple Sclerosis, as well as the ability to diagnose it at an earlier stage and offset much of the damage that eventually occurs.
Stem cell and genetic-based research are the most exciting upcoming innovations when it comes to helping those dealing with Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. It is hoped with stem cell and genetic treatments that targeted therapies for the management of this disease may be created, leading to an improved treatment outcome and better success across the board for patients.
With as many as 400,000 Americans suffering from Multiple Sclerosis throughout the U.S. today, it’s no wonder that this incurable disease is a concern for many people. This is especially true for those who have family members with the disease or those who have any of the associated risk factors for development.
While Multiple Sclerosis currently remains incurable, there is hope on the horizon for the development of more targeted therapies that can provide a better outcome and an improved quality of life for those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis today.