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

61 responses to “What is Multiple Sclerosis?”

  1. Fui diagnosticada com EM 1990 e depois de saber como ela iniciou(com auto agressão) pensei que se eu a criara somente eu a mataria e e foi o que fiz. Havia um grupo de portadores aqui na cidade mas era tão deprimente que até meu medico sugeriu que eu não participasse mais. Estudei sobre florais, tomei florais e decidi que me curaria sem interferons e similares. Conclusão: nunca mais tive surto, faço acompanhamento bianual com o neurologista e acho que o posicionamento positivo foi o que afastou de mim outros efeitos e surtos. Se criamos a doença ninguém melhor que nós mesmos descobrir onde e porque tudo começou! Espero ajudar alguém com este depoimento!!

  2. Back again to share some very exciting research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Jonathan Kipnis, Chair of the Neuroscience Department, has discovered a pathway between the gut and the brain that may lead to new treatments for MS, autism, spinal injury and more.
    https://news.virginia.edu/content/unknown-soldiers-uva-discovers-powerful-defenders-brain?utm_source=Illimitable&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=news
    Use url above if included, or go to (news-dot-Virginia-dot-edu) and search for Dr. Kipnis. Elana, for all that you’ve shared about the connection between the gut and the brain, it seems we now have the answer to the question of “how?” that happens.

  3. Elana, very interesting article on MS. I learned a lot and I am intrigued that one commenter mentioned your food choices. I wonder if food choices could help my problem…I have RA. What type of diet do you think could help with my immune disease? I have a severe case and was diagnosed about 10 years ago. I get monthly infusions and have been on many different RA drugs over the years. Each drug eventually fails and there are only a couple of choices left for me at this time. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

    • Sue, thanks for your comment! I’ve found a grain-free diet that is also low-carb to be super helpful with the autoimmune disorders I am dealing with :-)

  4. Hi Elana, 6 years diagnosed, just gone through another relapse, another lesion, and this has effected my mobility. So now I. Going to be starting treatment, fingers crossed side effects are not too bad! I have been following a loose keto eating plan for 25 weeks now, and have lost 19kg, so I must be doing something half right! I don’t think I could follow a strict keto or paleo anymore, it’s too much effort. But everyone is correct in saying it is all related to the gut, my husband has been doing a lot of reading about it, and he says all the top people say the same thing , too look after your gut.
    Well I hope you are feeling as well as you possibly can today. Take care
    Trish Hinz

    • Trish, so sorry to hear about the relapse, I know from experience how challenging that is. Good luck with the DMT! I hope you’ll keep me posted on how it goes and congrats on your eating plan and subsequent weight loss :-)

  5. Elana, I have questions regarding my daughter friend. She’s around 16. She has not been diagnosed with MS, (so far her mri is clear)
    but she has symptoms in my mind that mimic MS, she has a odd, sandpaper, agitated sensation when anything touches her skin, including her hair against her face, clothes on her body. She doesn’t necessarily describe it as numbness/pins/needles. She’s also started loosing control of her bladder….. what are your thoughts? I’ve dealt with pain since youth and in my late 20 diagnosed with fibromyalgia.. so I it’s hard to hear this about my daughters friend.

  6. I’m a Mum to sons aged 17,19 and 22 and I’m kinda realising now that I use up so much energy trying to appear ‘normal’ keeping up with everyone, going to watch them doing sports etc because I have this MS guilt thing going on …I’m so over it now, I’ve now decided my best is always enough so I’ve even purchased a travel mobility scooter for holidays when walking long distances, sightseeing etc (instead of saying you lot go on without me and I’ll just sit at this little cafe and have a coffee while y’all explore) Attitude to the situation is everything. I’ve also started a wonderful yoga class and I’m fine with not being able to do all the poses, my teacher says she like to see me modifying because it shows I’m listening onwards and upwards !! #Troopers #WhoRunTheWorld

  7. Hi Elana
    I was diagnosed with MS in December 2018 after experiencing various symptoms since 2010. We started researching n January and came across Live Disease Free which is helping many people with MS, even those in wheelchairs. One component is the nutritious Keto diet with no dairy – similar to what you are doing. Through this contact we found MS Gym online with specific exercises for those with MS. I signed up for the program which follows Functional Medicine components and am hopeful about my future for the first time in awhile.

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