ARTICLES / Multiple Sclerosis
/ Multiple Sclerosis: Understanding and ... /
Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
Sensory Ė many MS patients report
intermittent issues with numbness or tingling.
There may also be issues with sensitivity to
heat or cold.
Bladder Ė constipation and even loss of bladder
function can develop. Urinary tract infections may
be present, especially recurrent infections.
Cognitive Ė trouble concentrating or memory
issues may be present. Depression is also common in
MS patients. Physicians arenít certain if the
depression is caused by the MS or is a by-product of
the patientís coping mechanisms with the disease.
Fatigue Ė patients may report moderate to severe
Types of MS:
As with many diseases, there are several types of
MS that have been identified. The most common type
is Relapsing-Remitting or Exacerbating MS. This type
of MS affects approximately 85 percent of people who
have been diagnosed with the disease. It continually
baffles researchers since there seems to be no rhyme
or reason for a personís relapse. Symptoms may come
and go repeatedly over a long period of time and may
not worsen. The patient may take several days,
weeks, or even months to recover from a particular
episode. Some symptoms may even disappear completely
and not recur for extended periods of time.
Primary-Progressive MS is seen in a markedly less
percentage (around 10 percent) of those who have
been diagnosed. Symptoms in this type of MS more
than likely worsen over time and new symptoms may
appear as well. Persons who develop MS after the age
of 40 are more likely to have Primary-Progressive
MS. There isnít a definite relapse and recovery
Secondary-Progressive MS appears after the
Relapsing-Remiting stage and the patient sees that
symptoms appear to worsen over time without any type
of recovery at all. The decline may take years to be
The fourth type of MS is Progressive-Relapsing.
It is the least common form of MS. Patientís
symptoms steadily decline or worsen and while there
may be some recovery, although it is not likely.
There are several methods used to treat MS,
although none of them will completely cure the
disease. Since MS is often a diagnosis of exclusion,
meaning that other diseases that could have similar
occurrences of symptoms have been ruled out, it can
be difficult to treat just one area of the disease.
Often the treatments that are given combat only
specific symptoms, such as bladder issues, and not
just the MS itself.
There are some medications designed to treat only
the MS-related symptoms. Drugs that are designed to
target the breakdown in myelin may reduce flare-ups
and decrease the intensity of these attacks for a
period of time. They may also become less effective
over time. Clinical trials can be a good way to find
out about the latest medications being studied.
Other drugs are used to keep the person with MS
functioning as well as possible. These drugs can
include medications like corticosteroids to reduce
swelling in muscles and joints. There are quite a
few serious side effects of using corticosteroids on
an ongoing basis, so physicians generally prescribe
these during acute flare-ups. Other medications may
be used to reduce muscle spasms and preserve muscle