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What is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, progressive, debilitating disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. Think of stripping the plastic coating from an electrical wire: the nerve is exposed and impulses traveling between the brain and spinal cord are disrupted. This mainly occurs in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve, impairing vision and movement.

Symptoms of MS include: blindness, dizziness, paralysis, numbness, weakness, tingling, pain, fatigue, tremors, spasticity, loss of bladder/bowel control, slurred speech, and poor cognitive functioning (memory problems, word searching, brain fog).

There is no cure for MS. Right now, you can slow it down but you can’t stop it. The drugs are delivered by daily, weekly, or monthly injections. Steroids are commonly used to fight flare ups, also called exacerbations or relapses.

Scientists have not determined a cause for MS, but it can be triggered by a virus, fatigue, or stress.

Diagnostic tools include MRIs of the brain and spinal cord, spinal tap, electrical impulse testing, and blood tests to rule out other diseases that cause similar symptoms.

For more information on MS, please visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society home page at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx.

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