What is MS

What is MS:
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness involving the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the myelin, which is the protective layer around nerve fibers, causing inflammation, scar tissue or lesions, making it hard for the brain to send signals to the rest of the body.

People with MS experience a wide range of symptoms.  Due to the nature of the disease, symptoms can vary widely from person to person. They can also change in severity from year to year, month to month, and even day to day.  Two of the most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty walking.  Other common symptoms include speech disorders, tremors, cognitive issues, pain and vision disturbances.  Most people are between the ages of 20-40 at the time of diagnosis, and women develop MS two to three times more often than men.

No cure is available but there are multiple treatment options which may ease your symptoms, progression of the disease, and/or improve your quality of life.  Because MS is different for everyone, treatment depends on your specific symptoms.

There are many terms associated with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that you will become accustomed to hearing, including relapses, MS episodes, or exacerbations.  It is important to start by understanding how the medical field defines an MS episode, and to understand that those three words are used interchangeably.  They all mean that you are having neurological symptoms caused by inflammation within the central nervous symptom that is interrupting the “normal” working of some part of your body.  To be an exacerbation, the symptoms must last at least 24 hours, and not be caused by another factor known to influence MS, such as heat, fever, infection, are usually involving a new part of the body.  You also need to have been considered symptom free, or stable, for the previous thirty days.

The reason this is so important is that you need to be able to distinguish between factors that might influence your MS, and true worsening, or progression of the disease.  It is important to note however, that infections do tend to increase the risk of an exacerbation and lengthen the total duration of these as well, so being an advocate with your neurologist and medical team is critical to staying on top of anything that could cause disease progression.