Multiple Sclerosis affects over 2.3 million people throughout the world. So, in honor of March being Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, we are breaking down its symptoms and types, and finding out where to find help and how to raise awareness.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a non-curable disease that affects the central nervous system. Nerve cells are protected by myelin, an insulating sheath. In MS, the body’s immune system begins to break down the myelin, causing communication between the body’s nerves and the brain to slow down or be blocked. In severe cases, the disease can be debilitating, sometimes causing the person to lose the ability to walk, talk, or write. There are no known causes of MS, but the disease is often mild, with medications and treatments slowing down and managing symptoms.
Symptoms of MS can include:
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the face, body or limbs
- Difficulty walking
- Blurred or partial loss of vision, often accompanied by eye pain
- Bladder and/or bowel issues
- Stiffness in muscles or muscle spasms
- Emotional changes, including depression, mood swings, irritability, and episodes of extreme emotional reactions (such as laughing or crying)
There are four known types of MS: relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), primary-progressive MS (PPMS), secondary-progressive MS (SPMS), and progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS).
Relapsing-remitting MS, or RRMS, is categorized by its attacks of worsening neurological functions following periods of remission. These attacks are caused by inflammatory attacks on myelin and nerves fibers. Symptoms of these attacks often differ from person to person. This is the most common type of MS, with about 85 percent of patients being initially diagnosed.
Secondary-progressive MS, or SPMS, follows after RRMS. After the attacks of RRMS, most people will transition to SPMS, which causes the disease to steadily progress with or without relapses. 90 percent of people with RRMS move on to SPMS within 25 years.
Primary-progressive MS, or PPMS, is the steady incline of worsening neurological functioning and MS symptoms without any relapses. While progression may include occasional plateaus, it does not stop.
Progressive-relapsing MS, or PRMS, is the immediate onset of disease progression. Unlike PPMS, people suffering from progressive-relapsing MS experience occasional relapses. This form of MS is the most rare, occurring in only 5 percent of people with MS.
Treatments And Care
Treatments of MS vary from different medications to various rehabilitation methods. MS is an extremely complex disease that requires extensive and professional care. Having and knowing a health care provider that is both meticulous and dedicated to patient care and is within an acceptable price range is a necessity. AlphaCare offers affordable health care to New York seniors living in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Westchester County who are Medicare and/or Medicaid eligible. For more information on the different plans and offers, visit alphacare.com.
Raising MS Awareness
If you or a loved one is suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and wish to get involved in raising awareness, there are many different ways and events dedicated to fighting and finding a cure for MS. Upcoming events in and near the New York area include:
The MS walk is a charity walk series that takes place in over 550 locations each year. Dedicated to raising money for MS research, programs, and the MS community, Walk MS has raised over $920 million since 1988. Visit here for all MS walks in New York.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Glen Island Park
Check In/ Start Time: 9:00 am/10:00 am
Saturday, April 16, 2016
College of Staten Island
Check In/Start Time: 9:00 am/10:00 am
Sunday, April 17, 2016
New York, New York
Pier 26, Manhattan
Check In/ Start Time: 9:00 am/10:15 am
For more information on fundraising events, volunteer opportunities, donations and MS awareness information, visit www.nationalmssociety.org/Get-Involved.