Though a number of awareness walks for multiple sclerosis will take place in April this year, March is actually MS Awareness Month.
According tot he National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is an unpredictable and often disabling disease that is difficult to diagnose.
Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper takes a look at MS, its signs and what is available for treatment.
Q: What is multiple sclerosis, and what are its early signs?
A: “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that results when our immune system attacks our nervous system. This can cause numbness and tingling, weakness, vision problems, among other problems.”
Q: How is it diagnosed and is it difficult to diagnose?
A: “This disease is diagnosed by a combination of clinical symptoms and MRI testing. Multiple sclerosis can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are non-specific and can mimic other diseases.”
Q: What is the treatment, and does it matter if it is caught early?
A: “Treatment is more effective when the disease is diagnosed earlier. Most of the forms of treatment focus on suppressing the body’s immune system. These include older medications, like prednisone, and newer forms of treatment that come in injections.”
Q: Are there people more likely to get it than others, and at what age do symptoms start to appear?
A: “Multiple sclerosis affects women more than men, can run in families, and is usually diagnosed around age 30. People who have other autoimmune diseases are more likely to have MS.”
Q: What is the long-term outlook for someone with multiple sclerosis?
A: “The disease course can be quite variable from patient to patient. In some cases, MS can relapse, where symptoms disappear and return. In other cases, the symptoms can progressively worsen.”