7 Facts About Multiple Sclerosis You May Not Know

mriOne area of life that the phrase “ignorance is bliss” is completely false is your health. The more we can learn, the more we can prepare for. If you are dealing with a health issue like multiple sclerosis, knowledge is your friend. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease where the immune system eats away the protective covering of nerves. 

There are likely several things you want to know but shy away from talking about. With that in mind, below are seven things you wanted to know about multiple sclerosis but are too afraid to ask.

FACT 1: If you are showing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), your doctor may call for a brain and spine MRI with contrast.

When having a brain and spine MRI with contrast, you will be injected with a contrast dye that allows images that are taken during the procedure to show up more clearly. What your doctor is looking for with these MRIs are lesions that can show up as bright white spots or darkened areas in your central nervous system. Having an MRI is currently considered the best method to diagnose MS and monitor its course if you have it.

It’s important to note that if these lesions appear, they do not determine whether or not you have MS. How many lesions you have will also not indicate the severity of the disease if you are diagnosed with it. In fact, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “approximately 5 percent of people with clinically-definite MS do not initially show lesions on MRI at the time of diagnosis.” They also stated that “If repeat MRIs continue to show no lesions, the diagnosis of MS should be questioned.”

FACT 2: The symptoms by themselves may seem like something else entirely, but when they are combined and prolonged, it could mean you have MS.

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulties with the functions of the bowels and bladder
  • A sensation of electric-shock when you move your neck in certain positions
  • Numbing sensations or a tingling feeling in your face, arms, and legs
  • Clumsiness, trouble with keeping your balance, and/or difficulty walking
  • Prolonged double vision, partial loss of vision, or even complete loss of vision
    • This may occur in one eye at a time and can coincide with pain as you move your eyes
  • Difficult speaking such as slurred speech
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle spasms and tremors

FACT 3: There’s no known cause of MS, and unfortunately there is also no cure.

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease that often disables the central nervous system and affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. Though it’s not inherited or contagious, the cause of it is unknown. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, says an “average person in the United States has about one in 750 (.1%) chance of developing MS.” They also said, “Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.”

Though there is no cure, treatments have been developed that can help those afflicted with the disease to speed their recovery from attacks and to manage their symptoms. MS can affect people differently, and the course the disease can take may vary widely from patient to patient.

FACT 4: There are a wide variety of risk factors that may increase one’s risk of developing MS.

Most patients who develop and are diagnosed with MS are between 15 and 60. Women are two times as likely to get it, but both sexes are at a higher risk of developing it if their parents or siblings have it.

This disease typically affects Caucasians of Northern European descent and is more common in temperate climate countries like Canada, the northern U.S., southeastern Australia, Europe, and New Zealand. Viruses such as Epstein-Barr and autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes have been linked with a higher risk of MS as well.

FACT 5: You may be able to continue working and being physically active with MS.

Each case of MS is different. Some people have difficulty walking or seeing, and may experience extreme pain with various movements. However, being physically active may actually help you delay disability, and stay healthier longer. In addition to staying physically active, additional things you can do to help delay and lessen symptoms include:

  • Not smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Getting enough vitamin D and
  • Taking medications as prescribed

If you do continue working with MS, you may need to modify the type of work you do as many people with the disease struggle with debilitating pain and cognitive impairment. Then again, continuing to work may help your mood and quality of life overall. As your disease progresses, you might need to quit working completely at some point. When or if that will happen can not be predicted.

The good news is that as science and medicine continue to advance, more treatments are becoming available to improve the quality of life of patients with MS. From mobility aids to medications that may lessen the pain of MS, there is more help for patients today than ever before.

FACT 6: To better serve you, your doctor needs to know what you’re going through.

Talk to your doctor about all the options available to you if you are diagnosed with MS. After all, they can’t help you, if you don’t speak up. For example, if your medications are causing significant side effects, or if you’re experiencing an increase in pain, they will never know unless you tell them what’s happening.

As much as we may want them to be, doctors are not mind readers. So, even if you’re uncomfortable, you must speak up to get the help you want or need. It may be beneficial to bring a loved one with you to help you through the discomfort of asking difficult questions.

FACT 7: You don’t have to wait to voice your concerns if you think you may have MS.

If you think your symptoms are a sign of MS, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor. Remember, knowledge is power. The sooner a diagnosis is given, the sooner you can learn how to manage and treat your symptoms.

Once you have explained your concerns, your doctor may decide to order a brain and spine MRI with contrast depending on the severity of your symptoms, and how long you have been suffering with them. In the event that this diagnostic test is ordered, GO Imaging can help! Click here to learn more about our services or request an appointment by clicking here.

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