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Knowing and managing MS


While there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis, it can be managed by learning more about its incapacitating effects


BY Lynda Corpuz

Multiple sclerosis or MS is an inflammatory and a potentially debilitating disease in which your body’s immune system eats away the protective sheath that covers your nerves and interferes with the communication between your brain and the rest of your body. It is also known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminata.

According to mayoclinic.com, MS symptoms include: loss of sensitivity or tingling, pricking or numbness, muscle weakness, clonus, muscle spasms, difficulty in moving,  bladder and bowel problems, fatigue, acute and chronic pain, visual problems, cognitive impairment, trouble with coordination and balance, speech or swallowing problems, and depression or emotional instability. If these symptoms interfere with your day-to-day activities, immediately see your doctor to test for MS.


Types and patterns

The MS society in United Kingdom defines the four known subtypes or patterns of progression for MS:

Relapsing-remitting subtype. Unpredictable relapses followed by months or years of remission with no new signs of disease activity. This describes the initial course of 80 percent of those with MS.

Secondary progressive MS. Also called “galloping MS,” it is marked by progressive neurologic decline between acute attacks without any definite periods of remission. Affects around 65 percent of those with an initial relapsing-remitting MS.

Primary progressive subtype. Shows a progression of disability from the onset, with no—or, only occasional and minor—remissions and improvements. Strikes around 10 to 15 percent of individuals.

Progressive relapsing MS. A steady neurologic decline with clear, superimposed attacks. This is the least common of all subtypes.


Closest to treatment

There is no known cure for MS. The life expectancy of people with MS is five to 10 years lower than that of unaffected people, with almost 40 percent of patients reaching their 70s. Still, twothirds of MS deaths are directly related to the consequences of the disease.

Most patients lose the ability to walk prior to death, but 90 percent are still capable of independent walking at 10 years from onset, and 75 percent at 15 years.

Various literature cite therapies that prevent new attacks and disabilities,and help patients return to their functions have proven to be helpful:

Corticosteroid treatments. Corticosteroids, such as methylprednisolone, is administered in high doses during symptomatic attacks. It is generally effective in the short term. When consequences of severe attacks do not respond to corticosteroids, plasmapheresis is used for treatment.

Disease-modifying treatments. These are expensive and mostly require frequent-to-daily injections. Intravenous infusions at one- to three-month intervals are required for others. As of 2009, five disease-modifying treatments for MS have been approved by regulatory agencies of various countries: Interferon beta-1a and Interferon beta-1b, glatiramer acetate, mitoxantrone, and natalizumab. All are modestly effective at decreasing the number of attacks in relapsing remitting MS. However, there are not enough studies on the long-term effects of interferons and glatiramer acetate.

Alternative treatments. Among the alternative treatments pursued by some patients are dietary regimens, herbal medicine (including the use of medical cannabis or marijuana), hyperbaric oxygenation, and self-infection with hookworm or helminthic therapy.

These treatments require further supporting, comparable, and replicated scientific study.

For more information about MS, check out our March issue.


Also in this March issue 

  • Busting the myths of menstruation. Free yourself from worries. Know the real deal about your monthly period.

  • Osteoporosis prevention exercises. How weight-bearing activities give you strength and protect your bones.

  • More than a headache. Know the difference between headache and migraine.
When waiting may mean it’s too late. Vigilance—the key to fighting bowel cancer.




Knowing and Managing Multiple Sclerosis - Health Today Philippines
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