Photo: Getty Images
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week is March 14-20, 2011. With this in mind, let's look at some of the facts and statistics involving the health condition:
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2 million worldwide suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with MS. Also, most patients are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 50. African Americans with MS are more prone to severe and disabling MS symptoms.
MS is not contagious. Also, there is no cure for MS. Medical experts are baffled about the exact cause of this chronic disease which affects the central nervous system. MS can be difficult to diagnose since there is no one test to diagnose MS. The diagnosis is usually made by a neurologist.
MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and body. Symptoms result when the immune system attack affects myelin. Myelin is the insulation protecting nerve fibers of the central nervous system. When the myelin is destroyed, it is replaced by scar tissue of hardened sclerotic tissue.
Unfortunately, the symptoms, progress and severity of MS cannot be predicted in any one person.
MS affects each person differently. MS symptoms include reduced or lost mobility to numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. More than half of people with the disease have cognition issues. These issues include slowed thinking, decreased concentration or memory. Also, 10 percent of people with MS have severe impairment which impairs their ability to carry out daily tasks.
The majority of MS patients do not become severely disabled. Two-thirds of people who have MS remain able to walk. However, many may need a cane or crutches. Because of fatigue, weakness, poor balance or to conserving energy, some may choose to use a wheelchair or scooter.
MS is categorized into four different stage types:
Recent statistics revealed more than 15 percent of people who are diagnosed with MS will have progressive forms of the disease.