World Multiple Sclerosis Day (WMSD) is
celebrated each year, since 2009, on the 29th of May. The purpose of the day is to "raise awareness of MS
as a global issue and raise funds to support the work of the global MS movement
including MS research." WMSD is observed in at least 47
countries the world over.
Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating disorder that affects the nervous system. In
people who have MS, the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve cells gets damaged
and this impairs messages being sent to, and from, the brain and different
parts of the body. The disease is more prevalent in women than in men and
usually occurs for the first time between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
The causes of MS are not clearly understood
although there exists a popular school of thought that the condition is an
autoimmune one; genetic factors have also been implicated. More recently, a
cluster of genes on chromosome 6 are believed to play a role in bringing about
Some of the early symptoms of MS include tremors,
fatigue, problems in vision and in thinking. Other symptoms include impaired
coordination and balance, numbness, prickling sensations and muscle weakness
MS may result in complications in some individuals, which include muscle
stiffness, paralysis and bladder and bowel incontinence. Patients with MS are
highly prone to develop depression too.
The symptoms of MS are unpredictable and that
makes its diagnosis difficult. Diagnosis of the disease is done with the help
of imaging tests such as the MRI. It is important to recognize the early
warning signs of MS and get treatment at the earliest.
The disease is likely to affect day-to-day life,
interfere with eating, sleeping and working, and is also likely to trigger
depression. It would be better for the MS individuals to continue to work as
far as possible. In the event of being unable to cope, seeking help through
counseling or a support group is a good option. This will help them to choose a
career that is best suited for them and continue with their day-to-day life.
It is true that MS does not have a cure but it is
possible to control the condition with early diagnosis, early treatment with
the appropriate medications, physical therapy and stress management.