What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease that often disables the central nervous system, affecting your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in your eyes. The severity of signs and symptoms of MS often differ from person to person. The severity of symptoms depends on the amount of nerve damage caused in the body.
There are four main types of MS:
- Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS)- Initially 80-85% of patients are diagnosed with this type of MS which is characterized by periods that alternate between remission (times when symptoms have partially or completely gone away) and relapse (also called attacks or flares) when symptoms may worsen or new ones appear.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)-Patients are diagnosed with this type of MS when symptoms and disability steadily worsen. With SPMS periods of relapse and minor remission may or may not occur and will disappear over time. People who develop SPMS will have previously experienced a period of RRMS.
- Primary Progressive MS (PPMS)- Roughly 10% of MS patients are diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS. With PPMS, patients experience steadily worsening symptoms without any flares.
- Progressive Relapsing MS (PRMS)- Progressive Relapsing MS is the least common type of MS, occurring in only 5% of MS patients. PRMS is characterized by a steady worsening of the disease with acute periods of relapse. Patients may not may not recover from their periods of relapse.
What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis may include, but are not limited to:
- Numbness of the face, body, or extremities (arms and legs)
- Muscle weakness
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Thinking and memory problems
- Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
- Problems with bowel and bladder function
- Slurred speech
What Triggers Multiple Sclerosis?
To best manage your condition, it is important to know what can trigger your symptoms to occur. Triggers include, but are not limited to:
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
Although the cause of MS is still unknown, scientist believe that both unidentified environmental factors and genetic factors play a role in increasing the risk of developing MS. Some of these factors include:
- Age - MS can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between the ages of 20 and 50
- Sex - Women are about twice as likely as men are to develop MS
- Family history - If one of your parents or siblings has had MS, you are at higher risk of developing the disease
- Certain infections - A variety of viruses have been linked to MS, including Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis
- Race - White people, particularly those of Northern European descent, are at highest risk of developing MS. People of Asian, African or Native American descent have the lowest risk
- Climate - MS is far more common in countries with temperate climates, including Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, southeastern Australia and Europe
- Certain autoimmune diseases - You have a slightly higher risk of developing MS if you have thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease
- Smoking - Smokers who experience an initial event of symptoms that may signal MS are more likely than nonsmokers to develop a second event that confirms relapsing-remitting MS
How is Multiple Sclerosis treated?
Currently, there is no cure for MS. However, there are several medications that are available to help you manage your condition. Treatment focuses mostly on treating the flare ups and managing symptoms to enhance your comfort and quality of life. There are different types of treatments and medications available to treat MS. These medications can be injected under the skin or into the muscle, infused into a vein, or taken by mouth. Some examples of these treatments include:
- Interferons - may help to lower the number of exacerbations and may slow the progression of physical disability
- Monoclonal - antibodies may help alter the immune response
- Oral medications - may help delay the progression of physical disability and decrease the number of exacerbations
How does Noble help me manage my Multiple Sclerosis?
At Noble Health Services, we offer a variety of medications to help you treat your symptoms. We help you manage your condition through our Signature Care Program, which includes medication delivery, 24/7/365 on-call support, benefits and co-pay assistance and more. For more information on what Multiple Sclerosis medications we offer, please view the neurology enrollment form.