MS symptoms can mirror other diseases

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that attacks a person’s nerve fibers leading to the destruction of the myelin that insulates the fibers in the brain and spinal cord. It’s the myelin that facilitates electromechanical transmissions between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body. In over-simplified layman’s terms – MS causes short circuits in the nervous system, disrupting whatever function is controlled by the affected nerves.

March is MS Awareness Month. It’s designated to help make aware those who may be enduring symptoms of the disease without knowing what they may have. There is no cure for MS but there are treatments for it that can slow its progress, making early detection essential for its victims.

Its symptoms include: blurred vision, sometimes with pain; tingling and/or numbness; pain and involuntary muscle spasms; fatigue and weakness; problems with dizziness, balance and coordination; bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction; cognitive problems (memory, attention span, language); and emotional difficulties including depression. Other problems may include loss of hearing, seizures, shaking, breathing problems and slurred speech.

The effects of MS may be mild or severe, of short or lifelong duration. To know MS is to know its many and various symptoms, most of which it has in common with other illnesses, making it difficult at times to correctly diagnose. Any place in the body served by nerves may be affected by MS. Once thought to primarily attack young adults, it’s now known to affect people of all ages. And, for whatever reason, far more females have MS than males.

The disease in not specifically hereditary but one does have a higher chance of developing it if a close relative has it. The general population has one-tenth of a percent to develop it while that goes up to one percent to 3 percent if a sibling or parent has it. There is also some sort of environmental factor with MS – it’s far more common in northern climates than southern. Ohio has more people with MS than almost any other state.

I have written a number of pieces such as this over the years letting readers know of multiple sclerosis during this special month in Ohio, while always hoping I will never have to write another one. That day will come but until it does we need to get the word out so symptoms may be recognized, diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

We don’t know how many people may have been or will be helped with special months like this but even if only one person, it will be worth it. That person may even be you or someone you know and love. I recommend the website to those seeking further information.

Mel Maurer

Volunteer, National MS Society – Buckeye Chapter

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:19 AM, 03.21.2017