Multiple sclerosis, known as MS, is a disease that targets the central nervous system. More than 2.3 million people worldwide are likely affected by MS. Experts believe there are several risk factors that make one person more likely to develop MS than another. MS is more common in women and often appears between the ages of 20 and 50.
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. It is the most common neurological disorder affecting the younger population in the nation. Three people are diagnosed with MS everyday in Canada.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is a neurological disorder that attacks a person’s central nervous system. The disease impacts the myelin, a coating that protects nerves, making it hard for those nerves to send signals and messages to other parts of the body. It can cause impaired speech, fatigue, vision problems, balance disruption and, in some cases, paralysis. MS is difficult to predict even after diagnosis, and it affects each person differently. The most common symptoms associated with the disease include, but are not limited to:
- Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction
- Cognitive Impairment
- Vision Changes
Remember that not everyone will experience any or even all of these symptoms if they have MS.
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis
Diagnosing MS is not always an easy or fast process. Doctors will want to eliminate other possibilities for symptoms and will look for indications that the disease is present over a certain period of time to be certain that MS is the cause. An analysis of symptoms coupled with MRIs, evoked potentials, and lumbar punctures, can all be used to assist in making a diagnosis. Further complicating the matter is the fact that there is no single test for determining the presence of MS. It is a disease that is only diagnosed when other possibilities are no longer an option.
Assistance and Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Presently, multiple sclerosis is not curable, but it is treatable. There are many methods to help patients manage their symptoms, keep the disease under control, and maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible.
- Medications. Medication is a primary method of MS treatment. There are a variety of drugs that can be used. The first kind is made up of medicine that targets a certain part of the MS process to keep relapse-inducing inflammation under control. Doctors can also prescribe steroids to control relapses. Finally, there are plenty of medicines that can be used to target and treat specific symptoms of MS, depending on the patient’s primary concerns and experiences.
- Canadian Disability Tax Credit. The Canadian government offers help for those patients suffering from MS. The disability tax credit is offered to help bring some tax relief to people who may incur costs out of their own wallet associated with their conditions.
- Physical Therapy. Physical therapy can be a useful treatment method for patients who want to learn effective stretching and exercise techniques. These can help patients regain strength they may have lost as a result of MS symptoms.
- Lifestyle Changes. MS is a disease that can be life-changing, but not all of those changes have to have a negative impact on the patient. Living a healthy life with good nutrition, rest, and exercise, as appropriate, can help keep the body working to the best of its ability.
A diagnosis of MS can be frightening, but it is important to remember there are options for treatment and that the Canadian government will try to offer some financial relief in the form of a disability tax credit.
For more information: the multiple sclerosis society of Canada
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