What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Over the years, I've worked with several non-profits that focus on diagnosis, treatment, and support for those that suffer from MS. In my quest to spread awareness, I'm clearing up misconceptions and providing answers to questions commonly asked about this disease.

My MS Story

I was diagnosed with MS in 2006 but was recently told by one of my neurologists that I've likely suffered from the disease since my first neurological symptoms appeared in 1993 when I was 25 years old.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Essentially, the immune system misfires, attacking the myelin sheaths that coat the brain and spinal cord.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Generally, symptoms of MS can include vision loss, severe fatigue, impaired balance and coordination, and more. The disease manifests differently in different people. Some MS patients remain symptom-free their entire lives while others may have severe chronic symptoms that don't go away and end up wheelchair-bound.

What are the First signs of MS?

MS manifests differently in different people. Common initial symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Impaired Vision
  • Balance Problems and Lack of Coordination
  • Unsteady Gait and Trouble Walking
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Muscle Spasms and Pain
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Bladder and Bowel Issues
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Impaired Cognition

How is MS Diagnosed?

Multiple sclerosis can often be very difficult to diagnose. The most common methods of diagnosis for MS are MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), spinal tap, also called lumbar puncture (to examine cerebrospinal fluid for antibodies), and testing for impaired nerve responses using an optic test called EP (evoked potential).

Is MS More Common in Women or Men?

Multiple sclerosis is far more common in women than in men. It is thought that up to 80% of those who suffer from MS may be female.

Do You Die from MS?

Multiple sclerosis is rarely a fatal disease. In fact, the leading causes of death for those with MS are the same as those in the general population.

Celebrities with MS

Over the last few years, a number of young celebrities have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They include:

  • Selma Blair
  • Jamie Lynn Seigler
  • Jack Osburn

Do You Have MS?

What is your experience with multiple sclerosis? Do you know someone with this disease? Leave a comment and let us know how MS has impacted your life.

Thank you so much for raising awareness and your yummy recipes that help to keep us symptom-free.

Comments

59 responses to “What is Multiple Sclerosis?”

  1. Hi Elana
    Wow what a beautiful beautiful site you have created….food, visuals and oh the wordsmithery is magical. I was diagnosed RRMS 10 months ago…& love finding spaces of humor and hope. Thank you for the amazing writing and the positive threads woven throughout.

  2. Elana you are so brave! Thank you for sharing your life and nutritional expertise with us! I have Graves’ disease and neuropathy in my feet and sometimes my hands! I have experience the imbalance you speak of for 4 years then it went away! They change my Thyriod Meds everytime I go in! I have been diagnosed with fibromayagia! paraneoplastic disorder and stiff man’s disease! I walk a lot and hike! I was so weak in my muscles that I was bed Riden for many years and lost down to 85 pds. Massage was the only thing that seemed to help me! I went gluten free 2 years ago, which so many of my symptoms went away! The nerves settled down and I change the way I was thinking as well! I go with my body! Rest, then back to work! Thank you and you are awesome! Ann

    • Ann, you are awesome! Thanks for sharing you incredibly moving journey here. I hope you’ll keep me posted on how you’re doing so that we can stay connected! ❤️

  3. Dear Elana, Similar to you, I began experiencing symptoms in the 1990’s thinking it was peri-menopause. I was diagnosed w PPMS around 2005. I refused meds. I opted for HBOT with a even more conscious clean holistic lifestyle. Detoxing everything that surrounded me. Living w gratitude for no cane, no wheelchair & afternoon luxury naps. Today I’m in heels at San Diego airport, just left Sanoviv for my style of relaxation& rejuvenation. Totally clean non-toxic salt water swimming pools w OCEAN WATER. In house organic gardens served beautiful meals that you would approve of. Thank you for your service to the MS community & everyone else seeking guidance for a health style that makes sense. U r amazing & u r appreciated! Love, Juliette Lucarini Harch

    • Dear Julliette, thanks for a truly amazing comment that will inspire all of my readers! Big hugs to you and yours :-)

  4. Hi, Elana!

    Thank you so much for raising awareness and your yummy recipes that help to keep us symptom-free. I have not had an official diagnosis but I had a long list of symptoms that progressed aggressively over the course of a year. When my doctor dismissed them after blood tests came back “normal” I took a deep dive into all things functional medicine. I haven’t done anything drastic because I think detoxing needs to be gentle, but for the past two years I have been consistent with various choices that cleaned up my diet and also cleaning up my enviornmental exposures (including re-installing a landline and using a shielded ethernet cable on my laptop); cumulatively, this has led to some dramatic and life-changing improvements. I was on the Wahls Protocol for about 6 months and saw some great effects. But, ultimately, I think the recommended levels of fats were too much for me; even though they were good fats. My energy was good and I wasn’t sick…it was more of an intuitive feeling that something was “off.” I’ve cut back on them over the past month or so and feel even better. We’re all different and it’s so nice to have a space like this where we can brainstorm and help each other.

    All the best,
    Joanne Halpin
    Boston, MA

    • Joanne, thanks for your comment and for sharing the things you’ve tried here. And I totally agree, it’s important for us to have a space here where we can brainstorm and support each other :-)

  5. Elana, do you take any kind of traditional medicines for the MS?

    Or are you able to maintain balance with diet, rest, meditation and yoga/pilates?

    Thanks for your honesty.

    • I tried that and didn’t really have good results. Thanks for sharing. It is all about quality of life and I am doing my best to stay off any traditional medicine drugs.
      Are you symptom free? I am having a really rough time with symptoms this past month and never really seem to be symptom free.

      Thanks for all you share. Mother of one sweet 11 year old. Determined.

      • Michele, I am far from symptom free but my life is very good and I get to enjoy conversations with people like you as well as interacting with my friends and family! I find the more I rest and reduce stress the better I feel and the less symptoms I have, though that’s not always the case sometimes thing shift in a random way with my health. There are so many factors that are not in our control when it comes to health –environmental toxins, WiFi, etc. So glad we are on this healing path together and that we can support each other :-)

        • I have this vision of you perfectly symptom free and balanced. I thank you for sharing that you do have symptoms and choose to stay natural.
          Determined to stay natural and ride the waves of what comes, symptoms make it quite a challenge, especially this year, I was in the ER just two weeks ago, BUT I am up and about to get Levi off to school, cook our healthy meals, meditate and attend events when I can. Thanks for your support and openness.

          • Michele, thanks so much for your sweet and thoughtful words. I would definitely take an MS drug if it would improve my quality of life –i.e., I’d receive more benefit to disease process and symptoms, than negatives due to drug side effects. My position is to do whatever it takes to show up well in my life for myself and my family :-)

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