MS Awareness Month
There’s a good chance you may know someone with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). There’s also a chance you may know someone with MS that doesn’t know she or he has it since its symptoms are shared with other illnesses.
People have been treated for these illnesses, sometimes for years, before finally being correctly diagnosed with MS. Fortunately, with improved diagnostic methods such as MRIs, MS is now recognized much sooner and treated correctly. The quicker it is treated, the better. That’s what this month, dedicated to getting the word out on MS, is all about – recognizing its symptoms, seeing the right doctor and then getting treatment as soon as possible.
MS is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). Signs and symptoms may include: numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time (often with pain during eye movement), double vision or blurring of vision, tingling or pain in parts of your body, electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements, tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait, fatigue and dizziness. Once thought to be a disease of young adults, we now know MS hits a wider range of ages.
MS takes many forms. Research has identified four distinct courses of the disease: Relapsing-Remitting, Primary Progressive, Secondary Progressive and Progressive Relapsing. If diagnosed with MS, it may take a while to determine the type – and then it can change. A reasonable nickname for MS might be the “uncertain disease” – no one knows how it will act for sure. It’s almost as if MS is tailor-made for each person that has it.
The uncertainly also makes research very difficult – is a treatment working or did the disease just happen to go into remission? Such remissions often lead people to believe things are helping when it fact they are not doing anything.
While no cures have yet been found, a number of effective drugs have been developed which help with symptoms and retard the progress of a person’s MS. The hope is that the more people that are aware of the disease, the sooner they realize they need to see a doctor and get the meds they need to try to keep it in check before more damage is done. Anyone with the prevailing symptoms noted above should be sure to see a doctor.
For information and help, call 1-800-344-4867 or visit www.MSohiobuckeye.org.
Mel Maurer lives in Westlake.