Multiple Sclerosis was first diagnosed in the year 1868 and even though a cure is yet to be found, there are treatment options to help slow down the progression of the disease. 2.1 million People, world-wide have been diagnosed, with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), in the human body. The CNS comprises, the brain and the spinal cord with the network of nerves that convey messages to and from the brain, to the rest of the body. These nerves are sheathed in a protective covering called the myelin. MS for some, yet to be known reason, damages the myelin and consequently slows down or blocks the communication between the brain and the rest of the body or parts thereof.
Women are more affected by this disease and it commonly affects people in the age group between 20 and 40. Even, in its mild form it can affect the writing, speaking and walking ability of those afflicted with MS.
Early Symptoms of MS
Even though the cause of MS is a mystery, it is known that MS causes inflammation of the nerves. Some early symptoms to be aware of, are:
- Optic Neuritis or Vision Disorder– the inflammation of the optic nerve, in the eye(s), can lead to disruption of central vision, in one or both eyes. MS also causes blurred or double vision or prevents recognition of contrast and vivid colors. Looking up or down can cause pain together with loss of vision
- Tingling and Numbing Sensations – caused by inflamed nerves send conflicting messages between the brain and the spinal cord, and sometimes there is no communication. The lack of communication causes numbness. Sites where these sensations occur are in the legs, arms, fingers, toes and face
- Weakness of Muscles – the uncontrollable and painful wrenching movement of the limbs and stiffness of the muscles or joints are also a common symptom. Generally the legs are the most affected, but back pain is also typical
- Coordination and Balance – lack of stability and coordination, will cause gait problems. Vertigo with a feeling of light-headedness, will be experienced
- Cognitive Issues – MS also causes memory issues, depression, organizational disorders, language difficulties, short spans of attention, emotional disturbances such as mood swings, irritability and bouts of uncontrolled laughing and crying (in medical parlance – pseudobulbar affect)
Depending on the type of MS a patient is afflicted with, treatment options will vary. There are several treatment options, such as oral pills, injections and infusions, available.
7 Lifestyle Changes
For those who have been diagnosed in the early stages of MS, coping with everyday life may seem a gargantuan task, but not impossible, if certain lifestyle changes are made. Lifestyle changes or choices can help slow down the progressive deterioration of MS and provide a boost to a patient’s health.
Diet: Consume a diet rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, such as:
Exercise: Moderately paced physical activity such as swimming or walking, two days in the week helps diminish depression and fatigue. Aerobics 5 days a week or resistance training with a physiotherapist also will help living with MS more bearable
Sun and Vitamin D: Soak in the sun for about 15 minutes a day and take a vitamin-D pill a day
Smoking: Stop smoking or else the prognosis of MS can be accelerated
Stress Management: Several stress management techniques exist today. Techniques like Yoga or meditation, taking simple measures as asking for help when needed, effectively managing time, learning how to prioritize, doing deep breathing exercises
Sleep: Getting adequate sleep at night, is important
Pay Attention to Health in General: With lifestyle changes, managing MS along with other illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes or other diseases, will be easier