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Diagnosis: How to Handle the Beast

Basic Facts about Multiple Sclerosis

MS is a neurological disease in which myelin, the substance that protects neurons, is damaged, forming lesions in the central nervous system that interrupt the transmission of electrical currents to the rest of the body. Relapsing/remitting MS, the most common form at onset, causes flare-ups followed by periods of remission; there are several types of progressive MS in which symptoms worsen over time with no remissions.

Symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient — and from day to day — and include fatigue, numbness, visual impairment, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, cognitive impairment, tremors, vertigo, pain, depression, lack of coordination, paralysis, and blindness. Prognosis is near impossible.

MS is more common in women. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Due to MRI, more young adults and children are being diagnosed with MS. It is estimated that 2.5 million people worldwide have MS; approximately 200 people are diagnosed with MS in the United States each week.

There is currently no single definitive test for MS. It is diagnosed through neurological exam, clinical history, and a series of tests, along with elimination of other diseases.

MS is not contagious. The cause remains a mystery; a combination of genetics and environmental factors is one avenue that researchers are pursuing. Research into the cause and cure is ongoing.

Please look for the rest of my story this month here in Care2 Healthy & Green Living and more news about MS in Care2 Causes.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2.com’s Reform Health Policy blog in Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo.

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

59 comments

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4:13PM PDT on Mar 27, 2010

My mum reminded me this past week that, when I was around 8 yrs old, I saw an eye specialist because I was seeing black spots. He told us that they are called 'floaters'. More importantly, he told my mum it is usually an indication of issues to come (or something like that).

I was diagnosed with MS in 2001 at age 27 but I had symptoms for at least 5 yrs prior. I got my noticable symptoms 2 yrs after the birth of my daughter.

Did he know something more that he wasn't telling us? Did he know that I had MS? Have I had MS since I was 8 or earlier? What would have happened if we intervened back then?

I realize there is no point for me to hash the past but maybe it could impact other people and their futures...

9:46AM PDT on Mar 17, 2010

My husband first had symptoms in the army in 1950; it took him over 17 yrs to be diagnosed. There was only a spinal tap to tell if you had it; he had three. There was no medicine, no treatment..no hope.
He passed away from a gall bladder attack, and eventually pneumonia.
My daughter now has it and was diagnoses in a very few months. It is lucky for her that she was diagnosed so fast,
and for the medicines she receives and the treatment. The M.S. Society has worked for many, many years on the advancement of knowledge and treatment of this disease.
THANK YOU MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY!!!!!!!!!!!

10:36PM PST on Mar 8, 2010

EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE INFORMED ALWAYS OF DIFFERENT DISEASES-NO MATTER HOW OLD U ARE-THAT IS WHY READING ASND GETTING YOURSELF INFORMED MAY HELP YOU EVEN GETTING A CERTAIN DISEASE OR HELP YOU WITH ONE YOU MIGHT ALREADY HAVE.KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.RATHER READ FACTS THAN FICTION-STAY INFORMED

TANIA- SOUTH AFRICA

10:20PM PST on Mar 8, 2010

thanks for the information

2:46AM PST on Mar 6, 2010

thanks for posting

5:15PM PST on Mar 5, 2010

I really hope that you and others like you get what you need and someday maybe a miracle cure.

2:46PM PST on Mar 5, 2010

More positive proof for CCSVI - I couldn't put the whole story here but just a little blurb from Wayne at CCSVI in Toronto, "Media Event at False Creek Healthcare Vancouver, B.C.... they have now ramped up their CCSVI testing ability, and have been working closely with Dr. Simka from Poland this past week. This facility now offers world-class CCSVI testing. Also they are sending a team, along with UBC, to work with Dr. Zamboni this month, for additional training and consultation.

They have tested many people from across Canada over the last few days, and from what has been indicated nearly everyone is showing blood flow abnormalities on both Doppler and MRV's."

I've got my fingers and toes crossed (in an MS way) that the rest of the country of Canada and countries all over will wake up!

Have you asked your doctor if CCSVI is right for you?

6:04PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

Normally after someone shared personal comments I would offer words of support, but I think this thread is reaching many non-MSers. I wanted to remind people that the diagnosis, CCSVI has been shown to have a STRONG correlation to MS. We NEED vascular surgeons to step up! Neurologists are too comfortable with keeping us ill.
They figure out what comes first, CCSVI or MS, after they treat us for CCSVI. The next step will be legal action which is costly and painful!
EVERYBODY ask your dr if CCSVI is right for you. Educate yoursel and then educate your dr.
I'm tired of my illness being worth more than my health! There are petitions http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/end-ms-liberation-treatment or http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/the-liberation-procedure.html.

3:29PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

June-I wish you all the best out there. Keep going strong!

a wonderful article-thanks

11:24AM PST on Mar 4, 2010

Kaitlyn K: From the National MS Society --

"MS is not directly inherited, but genetics play an important role in who gets the disease. While the risk of developing MS in the general population is 1/750, the risk rises to 1/40 in anyone who has a close relative (parent, sibling, child) with the disease. Even though identical twins share the same genetic makeup, the risk for an identical twin is only 1/4—which means that some factor(s) other than genetics are involved."

Hope that helps.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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