Two years ago I worked at the National MS Society-NYC chapter and became familiar with the many struggles that individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) face. It was during my time there, I witnessed the impact this disease has not only on the individual but also on the family and significant others, especially when such individuals are not familiar with the disease. Below is general information I believe many individuals should be aware of so as to raise awareness and increase understanding.
1) Defining Multiple Sclerosis- According to the National MS Society, "Multiple Sclerosis is considered to be an immune-mediated disease in which the body's immune system attacks the central nervous system." While the disease affects everyone differently, common symptoms include fatigue, walking difficulties, numbness or tingling, vision problems, dizziness, vertigo, cognitive changes, etc. For more information about MS-related symptoms, click here.
2) Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis - Diagnosing MS at this time requires an extensive review of one's medical history along with a series of tests and exams that allows a physician and/or a medical team of various health care professionals to rule out other potential diagnosis. The aforementioned also allows health care professionals to find evidence that meets the current criteria for diagnosing MS. For more information regarding the diagnosis criteria and tools involved in diagnosing MS, click here.
3) Available Resources - Aside from obtaining more information about MS, various organizations offer opportunities for individuals with MS to meet one another, obtain emotional support through support groups and/or apply for financial assistance. The following organizations are just a few that can be helpful in finding available resources in your area - Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, National MS Society.
Being aware of the symptoms of MS, as well as the diagnosis process, can help individuals begin the journey of accessing appropriate medical treatment, obtaining any emotional and/or financial support they may need and helping their loved ones understand the physical and emotional symptoms an individual with MS may be experiencing, especially when such symptoms are not visible. Such resources and knowledge can also help to reduce stress that may otherwise cause symptoms to exacerbate.
Are you aware of any other resources that can be beneficial to individuals and their families dealing with MS? If so, please share them below.
Christine M. Valentin
As a licensed clinical social worker, I help individuals caring for a loved one reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. This blog is meant to share with you, many of the suggestions I recommend to many family caregivers. Sign up to receive them directly.