Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people around the world. In honor of World MS Day today, we have gathered 27 important facts about multiple sclerosis, to help our community raise awareness about MS.
We will be updating Facebook and Twitter with new facts throughout the day using the hashtag #strongerthanMS. To help spread awareness, please feel free to like, share, retweet, and/or comment on any or all of these 27 topics!
- Experts recognize 4 courses of MS: progressive-relapsing, secondary-progressive, primary-progressive, and relapsing-remitting.
- Of those diagnosed with MS, progressive-relapsing affects about 5% of people, about 10% are diagnosed with primary-progressive, about 85% are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting initially, and about 50% of people with relapsing-remitting develop secondary-progressive within 10 years of diagnosis.
- There is greater prevalence of MS in higher northern and southern latitudes.
- MS is much more common in females than males.
- MS is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
- The lifespan of a person with MS is just about as long as the lifespan of a person without the condition.
- While much effort and research has gone into finding out what causes MS, there are still no clear answers.
- In MS, a person’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation that damages myelin, the fatty coating that insulates and protects nerve fibers.
- To understand the central nervous system, it’s easiest to picture the nervous system as a tree. The CNS is the tree’s roots and truck.
- Out of the approximately 400,000 people who live with MS in the US, about 8,000 to 10,000 are children or adolescents.
- Fatigue is the most common and potentially most disabling symptom, affecting between 75% and 90% of people who have MS. Another common, yet less understood symptom of MS is pain, and this pain exists in many different forms.
- Numbness or tingling are common symptoms and the result of damage to nerves that transmit sensations from body surfaces to the brain.
- A relapse is when new symptoms or worsening of symptoms that persist for at least 24 hours and occur at least 30 days since a previous relapse.
- During a relapse, immune cells that normally circulate harmlessly in your blood stream attack and breakdown the blood-brain barrier.
- While there is no cure for relapses, treatment may help in speeding up recovery time.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an important tool used for diagnosing MS and monitoring disease progression.
- MRI scans reveal abnormalities in the majority (90% to 95%) of people with MS.
- Radiologists and neurologists will use MRIs to look for evidence of new damage, primarily lesions, and evidence of chronic damage to the CNS.
- Disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) have been shown to be effective in decreasing the frequency of relapses or exacerbations.
- DMTs are given either orally or by injection or IV.
- While DMTs are effective in the majority of cases of MS, they have not proven to be effective in cases of primary-progressive MS.
- People with MS may experience emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, pseudobulbar affect (PBA), and stress.
- Clinically significant depression affects up to 50% of people with multiple sclerosis over the course of their lifetime.
- No specific diet has been scientifically proven to slow progression. Specialists promote the same low fat, high fiber diet recommended for all adults.
- Stress is a trigger for MS. It comes in many shapes and sizes from emotional and physical, to the stress on the body by extremes in temperature.
- Regular exercise, including exercises for strengthening, stretching, and coordination and balance, can be useful in managing many common MS symptoms.
- Scientists still have a lot to learn about the immune system and autoimmune diseases, but they do know it plays a role in the development of MS.
There’s so much more to understand about multiple sclerosis beyond what we have in our list. We hope you will continue to be a part of our community and share stories and spread awareness about MS.