Multiple sclerosis (otherwise referred to as MS) is very much a condition that many people recognise the name of, but fail to understand the meaning of, particularly when it comes to the symptoms and sufferers. In essence, multiple sclerosis involves the sufferer’s own nervous system affecting the way that their nerve impulses work, creating a wide assortment of conditions related to the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is a very complex disease, however, so in this article we take a look at what multiple sclerosis can mean for those experiencing it.
Multiple sclerosis basics
Considering how different a case ca differ from one person to the next, it’s easy to see how the question “what does MS mean” is so difficult to answer in a simple and concise way. This inconsistency is due to each person with multiple sclerosis developing different symptoms due to MS-related scars occurring in different places around the body, and the differences in these locations yield inconsistent and diverse results. In Australia, multiple sclerosis currently affects over 25,600 people, and it is estimated that over two million have currently been diagnosed with the disease worldwide. Multiple sclerosis does affect some people more than others, however, with approximately three times as many women developing multiple sclerosis as compared to men, and most people being diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40 (despite there still being potential for younger or older people to be diagnosed). For these people there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but a variety of treatment options can make living with the disease much easier than it otherwise would be and these options also serve to slow the progression of the disease.
The symptoms associated with MS
As we mentioned previously, the symptoms related to multiple sclerosis can be highly variable, and even when a sufferer experiences a set of symptoms, this may eventually change in some capacity. This is due to the lesions that develop on the brain and spinal cord dictating what is affected, with issues ranging from physical to neurological. Some of the most common symptoms that those with multiple sclerosis experience include issues with motor control (such as muscular spasms, weakness and affected balance and coordination), fatigue and heat sensitivity, pins and needles, incontinence and a variety of mental health issues, such as depression and memory loss. As well as there being a wide range of symptom associated with multiple sclerosis, there are also many treatment options available. Depending on the case, these might include therapies that modify the workings of the immune system to slow down attacks, steroid medication and immune suppressants. These will not all be prescribed to anyone who has multiple sclerosis, and will instead be addressed on a case by case basis.
Approaching multiple sclerosis treatments
Because multiple sclerosis can be so variable, it is often the case that some patients react quite differently to some medications than others might. This, in addition to certain lifestyle factors, invariably means that people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis will rely heavily on healthcare professionals to determine what the best course of action is for their treatment. With this in mind, anecdotal stories of superior treatment options should not prioritise tailored treatment and care options.