While Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a serious and debilitating disease; however, many individuals live full lives after diagnosis. Symptoms can come on suddenly and be extremely scary. This video from the National MS Society gives us a glimpse of how MS affects our health and lives.
The big take-away from the video is that you are not alone with the disease, giving hope to those who have been diagnosed or who suspect they are having MS symptoms.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis affects the brain and central nervous system. Our own bodies attack myelin which is a sheath covering that surrounds nerves much like an electric cord cover (Morel 1999). As the myelin deteriorates, we lose nerve function, nerves misfire, or are permanently and irrevocably damaged. This damage can cause additional life-threatening complications.
Multiple Sclerosis is sometimes difficult to diagnose. No two people have the exact same symptoms and symptoms can come and go. There are approximately 20 identifiable symptoms, with these 14 symptoms found via the National MS Society website being most common:
- Walking difficulties
- Numbness or tingling
- Vision problems
- Bladder problems
- Sexual problems
- Bowel problems
- Pain and itching
- Cognitive changes
- Emotional changes
Diagnosing MS requires physicians from multiple disciplines working as a team to identify the symptoms which can incorporate different internal organs, nerves, skeletal issues, vision and more. The most important factor is to get medical diagnosis started as quickly as possible. This can reduce symptoms or delay damage to the affected parts of your body. Some people experience remission, even long-term remission, which is a time when symptoms are minimal.
Who Gets MS?
Multiple sclerosis is the most widespread disabling neurological condition of young adults around the world. You can develop MS at any age, but most people receive diagnoses between the ages of 20 and 50 (Healthline 2018).
There are also demographic factors, such as where you live, that can come into play. This adds to the complexity of the disease. There are approximately 2 million cases of MS globally and 1 million diagnosed cases living in the United States. 2X the number of MS diagnoses are made in Northern US states and Canada. That is a sobering and mystifying statistic.
When MS Requires an ER Visit
While an individual with known MS may already be in treatment, sudden onset of a symptom such as blindness or serious mobility issues can trigger an ER visit. A long-term chronic condition like MS is not something normally discovered in the ER at a first-time visit, but if your symptoms occur late at night or you want immediate attention, our facility is going to do as much testing and investigation as possible. We will make sure you are stable, comfortable and are in the care of a Board-Certified ER Physician. We’ll help you make a plan for next steps and be sure all of the tests and records obtained during your stay with us are transferred to your primary care physician.
We are here to support your health journey and will do everything with a sense of urgency. We won’t make you wait in a crowded hospital waiting room to be seen. Your health is our number one priority and taking care of you during what can be a scary health emergency is what we do best.
“Multiple Sclerosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Apr. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350269.
Morell, Pierre. “The Myelin Sheath.” Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects. 6th Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1999, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27954/.
“MS Symptoms.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society,