Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. MS is believed to be an autoimmune disease caused by the immune system attacking and damaging the insulating material (myelin) that surrounds nerve cells. It generally progresses gradually, sometimes with alternating periods of remission, good health, and disabling flare ups.
About 400,000 Americans, mostly young adults, live with MS. The disease affects nearly twice as many women as it does men. There is no cure for MS, but many people are able to lead active lives for years following diagnosis and have a normal life span. Multiple sclerosis can be very disabling and tiring, so many patients benefit from keeping a schedule and developing healthy lifestyle habits. Check out this infographic to learn more about the prevalence and types of MS, its symptoms, and available treatment options:
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Important Stats
- There are approximately 400,000 Americans living with MS
- 2.5 million people around the world have MS
- Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world - 291 cases out of 100,000 people. That's nine times higher than the global average.
- The incidence of multiple sclerosis is higher in colder climates.
- People of North European descent have the highest risk of developing the disease, no matter where they live.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Common Symptoms
- Changes in sensation, such as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Loss of muscle strength and dexterity
- Problems with walking, balance, and coordination
- Vision problems
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - 3 Types
- Relapsing-Remitting MS: affected individuals show symptoms of the disease, and then appear to recover. Symptoms appear again after a period of time. This cycle of symptoms-to-recovery continues over time. This is the most common type of multiple sclerosis.
- Primary Progressive MS: people experience gradual worsening of symptoms over time.
- Secondary Progressive MS: people initially exhibit signs of recovery, but later enter a stage of gradual worsening of symptoms without periods of recovery.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Treatment
- Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation during severe relapses.
- Disease-modifying agents reduce disease activity and progression for many individuals with MS.
- A variety of medications are available to treat symptoms associated with MS, such as fatigue, depression, and bladder control. Have a conversation with your doctor about your experiences to find out if any might provide some relief.