What do you know about Multiple Sclerosis? Multiple Sclerosis a disease that isn’t always visible to those around you. In fact, some refer to it as an invisible disability. It doesn’t come with a scar or a deformed body part. For some, we are able to hide our MS for years without anyone knowing we have it. Over the past few years, I have come to accept my diagnosis of MS. I now talk about it. It is part of me and it makes me who I am. I am a better person for it and I am a survivor.
To truly understand what MS is you first need to know a few things Multiple Sclerosis.
What Is MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease, which means it affects your nerves. It’s also an autoimmune disease. This means your body’s defenses against disease malfunction and starts attacking your own cells.
With MS, your immune system attacks your body’s myelin, which is a protective substance that covers your nerves. The unprotected nerves are damaged and can’t function as they would with healthy myelin. The damage to the nerves produces a wide range of symptoms that vary in severity.
It’s a chronic condition
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition, which means it’s long-lasting and there’s no cure for it. That said, it’s important to know that for the vast majority of people who have MS, the disease is not fatal. Most of the 2 million people worldwide with MS have a standard life expectancy. A rare few may have complications so severe that their life is shortened.
Although Multiple Sclerosis is a lifelong condition, many of its symptoms can be managed and controlled with medications and lifestyle adjustments.
The list of possible Multiple Sclerosis symptoms is long. It includes numbness and tingling, vision problems, balance and mobility issues, and slurred speech.
There’s no such thing as a “typical” symptom of MS because each person experiences the disease differently. The same symptoms may come and go frequently, or you may regain a lost function, such as bladder control. The unpredictable pattern of symptoms has to do with which nerves your immune system attacks at any given time.
Multiple Sclerosis is a silent disease
Multiples Sclerosis is labeled as a “silent disease” or an “invisible disability.” Many people with MS look no different from someone without it because of some of the symptoms, such as blurred vision, sensory problems, and chronic pain, are not visible. However, someone with MS may need special accommodations even though they don’t have mobility issues and seem “fine.”
MS is also called a silent disease because even during remission, the disease still progresses. This is sometimes referred to as the “silent progression” of MS.
Multiples Sclerosis involves relapse and remission
Most people who seek treatment for Multiples Sclerosis go through relapses and remissions. A relapse is when you experience a flare-up of symptoms. Relapses are also called exacerbations.
Remission is a period in which you have no symptoms of the disease. A remission can last for weeks, months, or, in some cases, years. But remission does not mean you no longer have Multiples Sclerosis. MS medications can help put you into remission, but you still have MS. Symptoms will likely return at some point.
Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease. Having lived with it for 25+ years I know that each day can be different. I also know that keeping a sense of humor is key to me staying positive. I mean truly it’s hard when you are the only sober drunk at a party.