Following are links to some basic information about important health issues facing today's families.


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Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a very unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system. The manifestation of MS can range from relatively minor symptoms to a devastating interruption of communication between the brain and various parts of the body. Some experts believe that MS is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body launches a defensive attack against its own tissues.

Symptoms of MS

Typically, the first symptoms appear between the ages of 20 and 40. Usually, the symptoms are blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion or even blindness. Weakness in the extremities and difficulty with one's coordination or balance can also be symptoms. If they are serious enough, the symptoms of MS can impair walking or even standing and in the worst cases, MS can lead to partial or total paralysis.

Because MS can affect different parts of the body differently, some patients report a feeling of numbness, prickling or feeling like they are being poked by pins or needles. Other patients feel pain, the onset of speech impediments, tremors or dizziness. Some even report hearing loss.

Approximately one half of all people who have MS have cognitive impairments as well. This can include difficulties concentrating, staying focused, remembering things and exercising good judgment. Since these signs can have other causes, they are often overlooked.

Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

There is no test for MS. As such, the symptoms may at first be misdiagnosed. The actual diagnosis is more of a process of elimination than testing for the disease itself. Since it can take months or even years to make the diagnosis, it can be a very unsettling time for the patient and their friends and family.

Treating MS

Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS yet. Depending on the nature of the disease, some patients don't have to take medication or undergo therapy at all. There are some clinical trials being conducted with synthetic forms of the myelin basic protein, but a true cure is somewhere in the future. For cases of chronic or advanced MS, the FDA has approved the uses of Novantrone, an immunosuppresent treatment.

Certain steroids can reduce the duration and severity of attacks. For those suffering from spasicity, muscle relaxers and tranquilizers have shown to be effective in lessening their effect. Other treatments are largely symptomatic, including physical therapy to address mobility issues and the use of antidepressants to treat depression or apathy, which are often side effects of having Multiple Sclerosis.

Adapted from materials provided by the National Institute of Neurological Orders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health








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