March is MS Awareness Month
By: Terri Robbins
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there are approximately 2.5 million people worldwide affected with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Roughly 400,000 of those are in the United States, and as a result, there is a growing amount of MS awareness. The onset of MS generally occurs between the ages of 20-50 and is most common in young adults. Women are twice as likely as men to develop the disease and it occurs most often in whites of northern European decent. MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects different parts of the central nervous system. Like Parkinson’s, an MS diagnosis can be difficult because there is no single test that can confirm a diagnosis. A diagnosis is made only after ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms. Being proactive in diagnosing, treating and understanding the disease as well as lifestyle changes can make living with MS more manageable for the patient and their families.
The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. The brain controls activities such as thought and movements. The spinal cord sends messages between the brain and the different parts of the body. Since these messages control bodily actions, MS can affect the function in many parts of the body. MS occurs when the body’s immune system treats normal CNS tissue as if it is foreign and attacks it. When this occurs, the messages to the brain get interrupted. This disruption causes the primary symptoms of MS. These symptoms include but are not limited to; fatigue, numbness, balance and coordination problems, bladder and bowel dysfunction, vision problems, pain and spasms, dizziness and vertigo. Even though one or more of these symptoms may be present, it does not mean that a person has the disease. If any of these symptoms are present, it is important to talk to your doctor to determine if they are related to MS or some other illness.
No two cases of MS are exactly alike and the progression varies from person to person. Based on the pattern and frequency of the symptoms, researchers have divided MS into four categories. Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common form and affects about 85% of MS diagnosed patients. Those with RRMS may experience relapses (the worsening of MS symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms) followed by partial or complete recovery that may last for months, or even years. Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS) is less common than RRMS and affects about 10% of patients with MS. Those with PPMS may experience a slow onset with nearly continuous worsening which may level off or continue to worsen for months or years. Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS) may be a stage of MS after RRMS, meaning, after a relapse, some symptoms remain constant with no remission. The rarest form of the disease is Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS) which affect about 5% of those diagnosed. Those with PRMS may go through a steady worsening, but may also experience relapses with or without complete recovery. The most important thing to remember is not to self-diagnose. Seek medical advice if you feel that you have one or more of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Get-Involved/Raise-Awareness to learn more about the disease and the goal to raise MS awareness.
For more information please contact Assisting Hands Home Care at 281-540-7400 or visit us on the web at www.assistinghands. com, or www.nationalsmssociety.org. At Assisting Hands, our mission is to offer our clients the very finest personalized home health care allowing them to live safely and comfortably in their own homes. Sometimes life’s natural events-aging, illness, or disability-can make living independently at home more difficult. We are able to offer in-home care for MS patients, and our trained dependable caregivers and personal assistants can help overcome those challenges, and make home an even better place to be. We include everything from companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, shopping and errands, light housekeeping and laundry, to personal care and help with bathing and dressing. Our home health care services are available throughout Humble and North Houston a few hours a day or around the clock and we customize our care to meet your schedule.