March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, so it’s an ideal time to shed some light on this condition. Here are some frequently asked questions about MS to help your understanding of it.
What is multiple sclerosis?
It’s a disease of the central nervous system, and it can affect the brain, optic nerves, and the spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis destroys the protective covering around the nerves of the central nervous system. This can affect communication between the brain and nerve pathways, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America reports.
How many people have multiple sclerosis? Who has it?
There are about a million people in the U.S. living with MS, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It’s most common in adults between ages 20 to 50, although younger and older people can have it as well. It is three times more common in women.
What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
Symptoms of MS include:
- problems with balance
- problems with coordination
- visual difficulties
- cognitive problems
- impaired mobility
Is there a treatment for multiple sclerosis?
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, although there are a variety of medications to help manage symptoms and slow disease progression. In addition to medications, physical therapists can help provide strengthening and stretching exercises. Occupational therapy can help those with MS manage their tasks of daily living and create a safe living environment. Yoga, regular physical activity, acupuncture, and a balanced diet all can help those living with MS, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What are some tips for caregivers of loved ones with multiple sclerosis?
- Make sure to educate yourself about multiple sclerosis.
- Watch out for signs of depression. Let a doctor know if you think your loved one is depressed.
- Take advantage of resources for caregivers, including caregiver support groups specific to MS.
- Work with occupational therapists to make your loved one’s home as safe as possible.
- Be patient when communicating with your loved one who has MS. Their memory and concentration may be weakened.
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