Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a puzzling disease attacking over 2.3 million people in the world, with around 200 cases appearing each day. Half a century ago, an MS diagnosis was much more devastating than it has to be today. Primary Care Neurologist Dr. Chris King speaks with Kate on Sounds Good today about the disease, treatment options and Primary Care's Community Forum on Multiple Sclerosis happening tomorrow evening.
In the U.S. alone, about 400,000 people have been diagnosed with MS, while many more are undiagnosed because of the ambiguous nature of the disease.
In short, MS is a disease that doesn't fit into any particular pattern. No blood test currently exists, meaning that doctors and patients must work together to put the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the dots between symptoms occurring over time in different parts of the body.
When a body is affected by an autoimmune disease, its immune system is essentially confused and sends antibodies to attack different portions of the body. In the case of MS, the antibodies attack the coating around nerve endings in the spinal cord and brain.
Because the disease affects the spinal cord, symptoms can appear all over the body. The most common indicators of the disease are fatigue, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and speech, vision and memory problems.
"There are a lot of opportunities to treat MS, especially if we catch it early," Dr. King says. "The earlier you catch it, the earlier you get involved proactively and the better off people will do."
Dr. King recommends that patients develop a strong relationship with their doctor and working with them to create and understand a plan for their health. Healthy living, diet and a positive outlook, though challenging, are the most important factors in combating the disease.
The forum on Multiple Sclerosis will take place tomorrow evening at 6:30 at Primary Care with snacks provided. Attendees will learn about the disease, how it affects the body, what symptoms to look for and what resources, local, regional and national, are available to those affected.