World Multiple Sclerosis Day (WMSD) is celebrated each year on 30th of May.
In some countries the whole month of May is dedicated to multiple sclerosis (MS). This occasion is used to bring awareness regarding the disease and it creates an opportunity for the 2 million people suffering from MS to share their stories with friends and strangers and, to join the global movement in fighting the disease.
AdvertisementThe theme for 2012 is "living with multiple sclerosis."
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the nerves of the central nervous system, particularly those involving the brain and the spinal cord, degenerate.
It is still not clear what causes MS. It is suspected that a virus triggers a reaction in the immune system, causing the immune cells to attack the myelin sheath covering the CNS, leading to its degeneration.
Genetics is believed to play a role in multiple sclerosis. Some populations like the European gypsies and the Eskimos do not develop multiple sclerosis while the Caucasians are more prone to develop the disease.
65-80% of the patients have relapsing-remitting (RR) type of MS. Here the person undergoes a series of attacks or relapses, followed by long periods of remission during which the symptoms totally disappear. 10-20% of the cases have primary progressive (PP) disease where there is a steady progression of the disability. . Majority of those with RR type of disease gradually develop the secondary progressive (SP) type. Visual disturbances, problems with limb movement, lack of coordination, numbness, fatigue, tremors, muscle spasms, dizziness, loss of sensation, loss of speech, decreased concentration and memory losses are some of the common symptoms of MS.
Diagnostic tools of MS include MRI scans, electrophysiological tests and examination of the cerebrospinal fluid. In most cases, the goal of treatment is to minimize relapses, speedup recovery after a relapse and to slowdown the progression of the disease.
Usually multiple sclerosis is diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 years but it has also been diagnosed in children and in the elderly.
What is it to live with multiple sclerosis? The life of a person with multiple sclerosis is not predictable and the life of no two affected people are similar! There are people who have climbed Mount Everest and there are people who are confined to wheel chairs or living in nursing homes. There are some who are very positive in their attitude while many suffer from depression. In some people the disease does not hinder their ability to work while in others the disability due to MS robs them of their potential to work.
It is important for people with MS to communicate with each other and share their experiences and knowledge. It is also necessary that friends, relatives and colleagues of those with MS are aware of the disease and show empathy, as that would make a world of difference to those struck by this debilitating condition!