About multiple sclerosisMultiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
It affects more women than men and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. About 400,000 people in the United States have MS. It is thought to affect more than 2.1 million people worldwide.
It is not contagious or directly inherited, but genetic factors may play a role in the disease.
Because nerves in any part of the brain or spinal cord may be damaged, patients can experience a wide variety of symptoms. They include muscle symptoms, such as loss of balance and problems walking; bowel and bladder difficulties; eye symptoms, such as double vision and rapid eye movements; numbness, tingling or pain; other brain and nervous symptoms, such as depression and decreased attention span; sexual symptoms; and speech and swallowing symptoms.
Fatigue is common as MS progresses and is often worse in the late afternoon.
There is no known cure, but there are therapies that may slow the disease and control the symptoms. Although the disease is chronic, life expectancy can be normal or near normal. More information is available from the National MS Society at nationalMSsociety.org or from the Upper Midwest Chapter at (800) 582-5296.