World Multiple Sclerosis Day is a movement initiated by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and encourages its society members, individuals or groups to work together to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the neurological disease that affects young adults. World Multiple Sclerosis Day falls on the last Wednesday of May each year, and this year, on May 28. On this day, many health experts, political leaders, organizations, social workers and individuals come together to organize activities to spread awareness about the management of Multiple Sclerosis. Since its start, World MS day has been reaching out to more than 67 countries worldwide and still growing.
Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most common neurologically debilitating diseases in young adults, affecting about 2.3 million people worldwide. It is a disease of the central nervous system, normally diagnosed in adults between 20 and 40 years of age. The body begins attacking its own nerve fibers, which in turn become scarred, looking like sclerosis. Signals to and from the brain are not relayed and there is a general loss of sensory and motor abilities, depending on the nerve or group of nerves affected.
Unlike many other diseases and conditions, diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis is not straightforward as the symptoms and signs are very vague. The symptoms may occur sporadically, with relapses and remissions, or may be progressive.
Fatigue is the most common symptom of MS, occurring possibly due to structural abnormality in the brain with demyelination (damage to the protective covering of the nerve cells) and axonal loss. Other symptoms include cognition and emotional changes, bladder and bowel control problems, sexual dysfunction due to sensory loss, loss or blurring of vision and movement and coordination problems.
The types of pain found in patients with MS include headache, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, facial pain or trigeminal neuralgia, painful tonic spasms, continuous burning pain in the extremities and many others.
Help for patients with Multiple sclerosis is available worldwide and in many forms. One can go for disease modifying treatments that aim to prevent or reduce the relapses of MS, treating symptoms with drugs such as immunosuppressants, rehabilitation and physical therapy and alternative therapies.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis becomes possible with will power, determination and support from family, friends and support groups. The roles in the family may be altered, but many people continue to work or study after the diagnosis of MS, with appropriate adjustments. Persons of child-bearing age with MS, can start a family, but need to consider certain issues like future care and responsibility of the child to be born, financial concerns, lasting relationships and managing moods and emotions.
With the onset of MS, affected persons need to accept the challenges posed by the condition and change to healthy lifestyle habits like eating and exercising well. A well-balanced diet is recommended, with low-fat and high fiber. Regular exercise helps to improve strength, overcome fatigue and also stabilize mood. Stretching, low impact aerobics, strength training, etc can be done after consulting the doctor.
Multiple sclerosis is not contagious and there is no drug to treat the condition. Managing the condition with determination and support is the only way to win.