Multiple Sclerosis: Coping and Interactivity

A few days ago, I was assigned this project for my Advanced Placement Health Class. The class as a whole was given several choices of cancers or diseases in which we all had to research, as well as doing an additional project to demonstrate simple knowledge of the subject. I picked Multiple Sclerosis and I would love to show you my research on it. It's indeed exceedingly informative, as well as an interesting read. For people who already know of this chronic disease, you may learn more. I have this blog under the School category; if any problems arise, I'm sorry for my bad judgment of classification.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that disables the Central Nervous System. It fails to reach the nerves of the arms, legs and eyes. The Central Nervous System consists of the brain, spinal cords, and nerve cells. A fatty tissue called myelin surrounds and protects the nerve cells. It helps nerve fibers send off electric impulses or signals. When a person suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, the myelin sheath is deteriorated in several areas, leaving scar tissue to which is called sclerosis. They are commonly known as plaques or lesions. When the myelin is disturbed, the electric impulses to the nerves become interrupted, making the ability to move inevitable.

There are several diagnostic processes such as MRI’s, spinal tap, and other suggested tests to check the level of MS in a person. The spinal tap checks if there is spinal fluid or any sign of disease. MRI’s check the brain and its detailed view. Some other tests are used to measure the nerve impulse for certain stimulation. The tests go into affect once the doctors find out certain symptoms. The most common symptoms of MS are problems with walking, bowel and bladder disturbances, pain, changes in sexual function, depression or mood swings, and visual problems. These symptoms are considered primary because they are the main cause of myelin destruction. Most of these symptoms however can be managed with medication and rehab. Secondary symptoms of MS are the result of a primary symptom. For example, a person with bladder dysfunction may have frequent urinary tract infections. Another example would be pressure sores. They are the secondary result of immobility. Tertiary symptoms of MS display the social and emotional aspects of both primary and secondary symptoms. A tertiary symptom would be lack of vivacity resulted from the inability to walk or drive. Another example would be the diagnosis of MS. It causes a person to lose self-esteem and self-image. Although these symptoms seem life changing, it’s important to remember not everyone with MS experiences them. Symptoms come and go and no two people experience them the same way. Most of these symptoms can be treated sufficiently if regulated by several neurologists and their allied health professionals.

Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed world wide, affecting about 2.5 million individuals. Some statistics show that approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge MS and every week, about 200 people are diagnosed. People with northern European ancestry are more common to get MS than people of African, Asian and Hispanic descent. Another statistic is genetically related because there has been no evidence of MS being genetically inheritable but studies show that genes make some individuals more liable to MS than others. With the early age onset, about 5% are diagnosed before the age of 21. For later age onset, 9.4% are diagnosed after the age of 50. However, most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages 20-50. MS is usually an adult onset disease, but it affects children intermittently. Statistics are also sexual oriented. Twice as many women have MS than men do. These statistics provide a better understanding of what MS demonstrates and how common misconceptions are proved erroneous.

Risk factors play an ideal role in MS in our society today. The three most important risk factors are heredity, environment, and geographical factors. Researchers suggest that the tendency to get MS is inherited, but the disease is marked by more environmental factors. The environment is very influential to Multiple Sclerosis. Viruses and bacteria have been known to cause MS, including the more recent Epstein-Barr virus, which has also caused an infectious mononucleosis. With geographical factors, countries with temperate climates, such as Europe, southern Canada, northern U.S, and southeast Australia are common for MS. The reason is unknown.

Seeking medical advice is very essential. Knowing when to, is also important. A person will usually begin feeling numb or get tingles in their arms or legs. It’s best to see a doctor especially if the numbness or tingling is consistent for more than a week and if it spreads to larger parts of the body. Another change may be double vision or persistent loss in balance, which should be immediately checked by a doctor. There are several coping skills to help people with MS get back on the right track to life. Maintaining normal daily activities, staying connected with friends and family, and continuing fond hobbies are great ways to cope with MS. Sometimes it’s hard to enjoy life with MS because people feel they have impaired the ability to enjoy themselves to the fullest extent, but not for long. Another coping skill is joining a group with people who also have MS that way; the support system is equally distributed.

The most common misconception of MS is the question “Is it curable?” No, MS is treatable, not curable. There are abundances of treatments for the different cases of MS. Some medication for relapsing MS is Beta-interferon. This helps to fight viral infection and regulation towards the immune system. Glatiramer (Copaxone) is an alternative treatment to Beta. Doctors have said it blocks the immune system from destruction of the myelin. Although some side effects include shortness of breath and flushing, Copaxone is effectively useful. Stronger treatment is used for progressive MS. For example, doctors suggest corticosteroids. It helps the inflammation of nerve tissue and flare-ups. Some side effects are high blood pressure and osteoporosis but just like any approved drug, corticosteroids are sufficient. Muscle relaxants are also suggested. Medication such as Baclofen and Zanaflex help irregular movement in the legs. Believe it or not, counseling is a treatment for people who suffer from MS. Counseling helps to relieve emotional stress. Treatment clears up a lot of patches in an individual’s life. It helps them view a better lifestyle and gain more self-esteem from within.

Taking care of oneself may ease the symptoms of MS. Resting, exercising, taking caution with heat and eating moderately are important factors to help a person with bad progressing symptoms. Fatigue is one of the first common symptoms of MS, so resting is important to do. When exercise becomes a part of one’s life, tone in the muscle is built and balance and coordination will help potential depression. Intense heat causes muscle weakness. Some people with MS aren’t bothered by the heat. For example, it’s okay to enjoy a nice hot tub or sauna just as long as there’s supervision. If the heat causes an episode of progressing symptoms, just a simple cooling down will bring the individual’s homeostasis back to normal. If people with MS live in a dry, sun beating environment, then an air conditioning system is considerable. Cool baths also help relief. Lastly, eating a well balanced diet helps the immune system to stay resilient.

About four years ago, my 49 year old cousin Dominic was diagnosed with MS. He has inspired me to learn and research MS and all that is stands for. He is at the last progressive stage, which is known as the worst stage. Dominic needs assistance with everything because he’s in a wheelchair. It’s hard to see him become so immobile because he’s lost a lot of interactivity with his family and friends. However, he copes with his disease by acting like the same old spirited Dominic I’ve always known and will always care about.

Thank you for reading. OMGyes
Posted on December 4th, 2007 at 09:46pm


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