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MS Awareness Week
April 27th 2015
MS Awareness Week aims to improve treatment and care to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) take control of their lives. Funding research during MS Awareness Week works to help beat MS for good.
More than 100,000 people in the UK have multiple sclerosis. MS occurs when the coating around nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms. Symptoms usually start in your 20s and 30s and it affects almost three times as many women as men.
Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms. The cause is still unknown and no cure has yet been found. However, research is fast progressing and raising awareness as well as funds during MS Awareness Week can help progress the answers needed.
What happens in MS
To understand how MS affects us, it is useful to know how the central nervous system works.
A substance called Myelin protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system, which helps messages travel quickly and smoothly between the brain and the rest of the body.
In MS your immune system which normally helps to fight infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibres, either partially or completely, leaving scars known as lesions or plaques.
This damage disrupts messages travelling along nerve fibres - they can slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all.
As well as myelin loss, there can also sometimes be damage to the actual nerve fibres. It is this nerve damage that causes the increase in disability that can occur over time.
MS Symptoms
As the central nervous system links everything your body does, many different types of symptoms can appear in MS.
The specific symptoms that appear depend on which part of your central nervous system is affected and the job of the damaged nerve.
Physical symptoms can include vision problems, balance problems and dizziness, fatigue, bladder problems and stiffness or spasms. Other physical ailments might include problems with the bowel, speech, swallowing and tremors.
MS can also affect our memory, thinking and emotions. Problems with sexual function may arise also in both men and women
Ways to manage MS
There are various ways to help manage MS, such as drug treatments for individual symptoms, diet, exercise as well as complementary and alternative therapies. Disease modifying drugs may be used. These are not a cure but they can reduce the frequency and severity of MS relapses.
Depending on what symptoms you have, there are different ways to manage their impact on your life.
If you would like more information or support in relation to MS then you can visit www.mssociety.org.uk
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