31 Things to Know about Multiple Sclerosis for MS World Day

May 31, 2017 is MS World Day, and it’s a day to help spread the word about what life is REALLY like for those living with, and caring for people with multiple sclerosis. MS impacts more than 2.3 million people worldwide, yet many people still don’t understand what it means to have MS. We want to help spread awareness and help others understand what MS really is, and what it’s like for people who live with this condition every day. We’ve put together a list of 31 facts about MS.

We will be updating Facebook and Twitter with new facts throughout the day using the hashtag #LifewithMS. To help spread awareness, please feel free to like, share, retweet, and/or comment on any or all of these 31 MS facts!

    1. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) in which a person’s immune system attacks the protective covering (myelin) of the body’s nerve fibers, resulting in communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
    2. Multiple Sclerosis is not contagious.
    3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used to assess disease progression and evaluate if your treatment is working well.
    4. There is a great deal of research around what causes MS, but there is no clear answer into the exact cause of this disease.
    5. There are 4 types of MS: Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS), and Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS).
    6. Pain is a real symptom of MS.
    7. There is no cure for MS.
    8. There is no way to know or to predict where a lesion is going to occur.
    9. In autoimmune diseases like MS, the immune system makes a mistake in reading the cell’s antigens (their ID), and thinks that the body’s own cells are foreign invaders. The immune system the launches an attack against our own cells, like it is trained to do to foreign invaders.
    10. The MS Society defines a relapse as any new or worsening symptom that lasts for more than 24 hours, happens more than 30 days after a previous attack, and that occurs in the absence of another cause such as stress, infection, or an elevation in body temperature.1
    11. In addition to a relapse, external factors like stress, illness, or temperature changes can cause a sudden worsening of symptoms (or pseudo-exacerbation).
    12. Bladder and bowel problems are a common symptom of MS.
    13. Heat can make MS symptoms worse.
    14. People who have MS may experience emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, pseudobulbar affect (PBA), and stress.
    15. Disease-modifying treatments have been shown to reduce the frequency of relapses.
    16. Fatigue is one of the most common and potentially most disabling symptoms, affecting between 75% and 90% of people who have MS.
    17. MS is more prevalent in higher northern and southern latitudes.
    18. Spasticity is a stiffness of the limbs resulting from increased muscle tone and is common in people with MS. It is a result of demyelination that occurs in nerves that regulate muscle tone.
    19. Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the optic nerve, and is a common symptom of MS.
    20. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounds the brain and spinal cord, serving as a cushion for the brain in the skull. CSF bathes the brain and spinal cord with nutrients filtered from the blood and helps to eliminate waste products from the brain. CSF analysis can be used to diagnose a number of neurologic diseases, including MS.
    21. To understand the central nervous system, it’s easiest to picture the nervous system as a tree. The CNS is the tree’s roots and truck.
    22. Cognitive dysfunction, or cog-fog, occurs in many people with MS.
    23. MS occurs more frequently in women than in men.
    24. Many people with MS follow one of several specific diets to help manage symptoms, including the Swank diet, the paleo diet, an anti-inflammatory diet, and eating “clean.”
    25. Disease-modifying treatments can be given by injection, infusion, or orally.
    26. Clinically significant depression affects up to 50% of people with multiple sclerosis over the course of their lifetime.
    27. In addition to DMTs, there are many complimentary and alternative medicines that can be used to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for those with MS.
    28. A diagnosis of MS is called a clinical diagnosis because it requires evidence that your neurologist gathers from your medical history, your present symptoms, results from a thorough neurologic examination, as well as findings from other special tests including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), evoked potentials, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis.
    29. In the US, the number of people with MS is estimated to be about 400,000, with approximately 10,000 new cases diagnosed every year (that’s 200 new cases per week).
    30. MS can affect people of any age. However, it’s most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
    31. While research suggests that MS is not directly inherited, genetics appear to play a role in predisposing or increasing a person’s chances for developing MS.

There is so much more to living with MS than is on this list, but sharing information about MS and the impact that it has on a person’s life is critical to the effort in spreading awareness. We can’t thank our amazing community enough for sharing this information with others to help spread awareness for this community.

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