Multiple Sclerosis Week – Causes, Symptoms and How You Can Help
The 20th of April marked the beginning of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) week. MS is a condition that affects the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms people experience vary from person to person and over time. Everyone’s MS is different, therefore predicting an individual’s symptoms can be difficult. The aim of this article is to try and raise the awareness of MS by looking at the causes of it, the hidden symptoms and how to ease them.
There are many misconceptions surrounding MS. The MS Trust raises awareness of the condition and aims to dispel some common myths every year. This year they have chosen to focus on the unseen challenges of MS, namely mental health. This is something that is even more relevant in our current climate where people are facing the added challenge of Covid-19. Here are some of our own tips on How to Stay Happy and Healthy During Self-Isolation.
What Causes MS?
In people with MS the immune system mistakenly attacks the Central Nervous System. When the attack happens, the immune system targets the protective covering around the nerves (called myelin) leaving them more open to attack. Along with protecting the nerves, myelin also helps messages travel through the body. Meaning that messages are delayed through the body, or do not get through at all. Learning about the condition can help you take control of your MS. Take a look at more detailed information on the causes of MS.
What Are the Symptoms of MS?
The immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spine. Meaning that MS can cause a wide range of symptoms as these nerves control the functions of the whole body. Because of the wide range of symptoms it is likely that no two people will experience MS in the same way. Symptoms include fatigue or unusual feelings in your skin such as pins and needles or numbness, eyesight problems,memory or slowness in your thinking, and a weakness or heavy feeling in one’s legs.
One of the other symptoms that over 75% of MS patients encounter is bladder and bowel problems. Multiple Sclerosis Trust have more information and advice on Bladder incontinence on their website.
How Common is MS?
Approximately 130,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with MS, and every week roughly 100 more people are diagnosed. It is over three times more common among women than men. It is not an inherited condition, but family members do have a slightly higher risk of developing MS. However, there is only around a two per cent chance of a child developing MS when a parent is affected. It is thought to be caused more by environmental factors such as decreased sunlight exposure and smoking.
Can you Treat MS?
At the moment there is no cure for MS. Although there are many treatments that you can undertake to ease the symptoms. Some people with MS choose to use complementary therapies alongside conventional medicine to help improve their physical and mental well-being. These include things like yoga, massage, reflexology, mindfulness and other exercise. Have a look at our easy four step guide to exercising during the lockdown.
What Can you Do to Get Involved?
Many of the charities that support people with MS rely on donations. There are ways to raise money even during the Coronavirus lockdown by doing some virtual challenges! There are some amazing ideas for virtual fundraisers available.
These include donating the money you would normally be spending on your daily work commute to charities. Alternatively, you could donate your usual morning coffee outgoings to a charity. Another idea would be to challenge yourself to a virtual race, measuring the distance on Strava or Fitbit and get family and friends to sponsor you.
There are so many ways you can get involved head over to MS Trusts website for more ideas.