We hear so much about it, and it’s likely you know at least one person diagnosed with it, but you may still be wondering: exactly what is MS? Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic, usually progressive disease that causes damage to nerve cell sheaths in the spinal cord and brain. It can have an impact on a variety of physical functions, including speech, muscle coordination, and vision, to name just a few.
While there is not yet a cure for MS, hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are living with it – roughly 400,000 people to be exact, and of that, as many as 86% list fatigue as the leading symptom of their disease. The cause of MS is unknown; it is not contagious or known to be directly inherited, but factors that may come into play include the following:
- Gender – Women are affected more than two times as often as men
- Age – The majority of people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50
- Geography – Most people with MS live in temperate climates
- Ethnic background – Those with Caucasian origin are at a greater risk
It is believed that multiple sclerosis symptoms result when an immune system attack affects myelin, the protective insulation surrounding nerve fibers of the central nervous system. For people with MS, myelin is destroyed and replaced by scars of hardened sclerotic tissue. Some underlying nerve fibers are permanently severed, and the damage manifests in multiple places within the central nervous system — providing the disease with its name.
While no cure for multiple sclerosis has been discovered yet, several FDA-approved drugs are accessible for the long-term treatment of MS. These meds have been shown to reduce the number and severity of MS flare-ups, and possibly postpone progression of the disease. Additionally, numerous therapeutic and technological advances are assisting people in managing symptoms.
If you live in the Nashville area, contact Caregivers By WholeCare to find out how our in-home caregivers can help a person with MS to feel enabled, motivated and connected to others. Feel free to call us anytime at (615) 298-9201, or fill out our simple online contact form to let us know how we can help.