World Multiple Sclerosis Day, observed annually on May 30th, is a worldwide healthcare event that serves as a platform to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis (MS) and foster connections between individuals affected by MS and valuable resources. The day provides an opportunity to enhance support systems and improve access to relevant information for MS patients.
The theme for World MS Day from 2020 to 2023 is centred around “connections.” MS Connections focuses on the importance of establishing various types of connections, including building a sense of community, strengthening self-connection, and fostering connections to receive high-quality care and support.
To celebrate this World MS Day 2023, let’s learn more about Multiple sclerosis (MS), its symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment. So, please keep reading.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and long term condition that impacts the central nervous system, comprising of the brain and the spinal cord. This condition has the potential to cause disability. Multiple sclerosis is usually characterized by symptoms such as muscle weakness, vision impairment, balance problems and numbness.
MS is an autoimmune condition. In MS, the patient’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body tissues. The progression and impact of MS can vary widely among individuals, with some experiencing mild symptoms while others may face significant challenges such as visual disturbances, communication difficulties, impaired motor skills, or mobility limitations due to disrupted brain-body communication.
What are the multiple sclerosis symptoms?
Multiple sclerosis symptoms are mostly unpredictable. In some patients, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be mild; in others, it may be severe. Some patients might experience short-term MS symptoms, while others are likely to have them long-term. Although MS symptoms can vary from person-to-person awareness of multiple sclerosis symptoms is essential. The following are multiple sclerosis symptoms that one needs to be aware of,
- Blurred vision
- Trouble walking
- Numbness or tingling in one or more than one limb
- Loss of balance
- Muscle weakness
- Sexual issues
- Poor bladder control
- Poor bowel control
- Memory problems
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of vision in some cases
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of hearing
What are the causes of multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Researchers still don’t exactly know the causes of multiple sclerosis. However, there are certain risk factors that may trigger multiple sclerosis. These multiple sclerosis risk factors may include the following,
- Age: People aged between 20 to 40 years are mostly diagnosed with MS.
- Genetic factors: Having certain genes may also increase an individual’s risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
- Infections: Certain viral infections, such as those caused by Epstein-Barr virus or human herpesvirus 6, may also increase the risk of MS.
- Smoking: Smokers are more likely to be at MS risk.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency: A person who is deficient in Vitamin B12 may develop multiple sclerosis.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Having decreased levels of Vitamin D in the body may also act as a risk factor for developing multiple sclerosis.
How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
When diagnosing a patient with multiple sclerosis, a doctor will conduct a complete physical examination of the patient. Apart from a physical examination, a neurological examination will also be conducted where the patient will be asked about the various symptoms they are experiencing along with their medical history.
Since there is no single definitive way of confirming a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, a doctor will use various methods to check whether the patient is meeting the required criteria for diagnosing MS. Some of these multiple sclerosis diagnostic tests may include,
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests such as MRI scans to check the brain and spinal cord for lesions
- Spinal tap (spinal fluid analysis)
- Evoked potential tests (to record the electrical signals that the nervous system produces when given stimuli)
How to treat multiple sclerosis?
There is currently no cure available for multiple sclerosis (MS), but several therapies can improve general health and keep the body working at its best. These therapies concentrate on easing symptoms, controlling relapses, and delaying the course of the illness to improve the quality of life of patients with MS.
Some of the treatments for multiple sclerosis patients may include,
- Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)
- Relapse management medications like corticosteroids
- Physical therapy
- Mental health therapy
- Complimentary therapy, such as acupuncture
Living with Multiple sclerosis
While living with multiple sclerosis may be difficult, there are certain things that can be done to relieve the MS symptoms, such as,
- Eating healthily
- Regular exercising
- Getting proper sleep
- Managing stress
- Not smoking
- Seeking counselling and care
Multiple sclerosis complications
A patient with multiple sclerosis might have to deal with the following MS complications,
- Urinary tract infections
- Muscle stiffness and spasms
- Sexual problems
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Cognitive issues like memory problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Reduced mobility
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that can take a huge toll on both physical and mental health of the patient. Hence, this World MS Day 2023, ensure to extend support to those having MS. Provide care to MS patients by being understanding and kind towards them. To create awareness this World MS Day 2023, educate people about MS, its symptoms and triggers. Educate people about being more sensitive and kinder towards people with MS, as this will help them stay strong mentally. On World MS Day 2023, ensure to raise awareness among people to extend support to patients with MS and their families by raising funds.
At Ayu Health Network of Hospitals, we provide the best treatment, support and care to patients with MS. Our team of doctors, staff, counsellors, nutritionists and physical therapists work closely together every day to ensure that our patients with MS get the best care possible.
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About the Author
Dr. S. Goel
Dr. S. Goel is a renowned Internal Medicine Specialist currently practicing at Ayu Health, Bangalore. He is a Specialist in Internal Medicine, Diabetes HTN, Paediatric Care, and Family Medicine.