Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month during March encourages support for the nearly 400,000 people diagnosed in the United States with this unpredictable disorder.
While not contagious, it can be devastating if untreated and challenging to diagnose. Symptoms often develop over time. Many times, physicians rule out other conditions before making a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
It is a disease of the central nervous system, affecting the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. Each day, those living with multiple sclerosis do everything they can to push forward. Despite all the challenges they face, they persevere and often, with treatment, you and I wouldn’t know the struggles they overcome.
Common signs of the disease include trouble walking, difficulty maintaining balance, fatigue, numbness or tingling, and vision problems. These symptoms can vary widely depending on which nerves are affected and the level of damage to the nerves.
“Multiple sclerosis may be a part of who you are, but it doesn’t define you as a person. You are who you are, and MS can’t take that away from you.” -Clarissa, diagnosed in 2006
MS destroys the myelin surrounding the nerves and over time results in reduced communication between the nerves and the brain. Symptoms include visual issues, difficulty with balance and coordination which ultimately limits mobility and overwhelming fatigue.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America sponsors Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month along with many other programs.
“Even when we’re in periods of remission, we are struggling psychologically on a daily basis.” -Meagan Freeman, family nurse practitioner
HOW TO OBSERVE
Learn more about multiple sclerosis and its symptoms. Visit www.mymsaa.org to find out how to provide support to a loved one or a friend who has MS. Use #MultipleSclerosisAwarenessMonth to share on social media. Reach out to someone you know who has multiple sclerosis. Talk openly with them about it to learn more. While it may be a tad uncomfortable at first, they will be glad you wanted to learn more.
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