Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

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multiple sclerosis awareness month

March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness and Education Month! This awareness month takes place in March and is represented by the color orange.

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month Highlights Unpredictability of Disease

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.

MS is a disease that impacts the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. These make up the central nervous system. The central nervous system controls everything we do. The exact cause of MS is unknown. We do know, however, that something triggers the immune system to attack the central nervous system.

MS and Myelin

The resulting damage to myelin, the protective layer insulating wire-like nerve fibers, disrupts signals to and from the brain. This interruption of communication signals causes unpredictable symptoms. For example, these symptoms include numbness, tingling, mood changes, memory problems, pain, fatigue, blindness and/or paralysis. Everyone’s experience, though, with MS is different and these losses may be temporary or long lasting.

The cause of MS is still unknown.  Scientists believe the disease is triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factors in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond.

The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person, though, cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.  At least two to three times more women than men are diagnosed with the disease.

Within the central nervous system, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted. This produces a wide variety of symptoms.

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