Functional Medicine & Wellness

What You Need To Know About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. It is characterized by the immune system mistakenly attacking the protective covering of nerve fibers (myelin), leading to inflammation, damage, and disruption of nerve signals. MS is a complex condition with a wide range of signs and symptoms, varying from person to person. Everyone, especially women, need to be aware of what this disease entails and preventative measures worth taking. 

While nearly 1 million people are living with MS in the United States, women are three times more likely than men to be diagnosed with MS. Not only are women’s nervous and immune systems different from men’s, but hormonal fluctuations experienced by women can exacerbate MS symptoms. Source: Penn Medicine

If you ever feel as though something is “off” and there’s a chance it could be due to an underlying health-related issue, it’s always worthwhile to seek the attention of a healthcare professional. At Omnia Health, we wholeheartedly believe that you know your body best! More than ever before, it is crucial for you to advocate for your well being. Many celebrities — Selma Blair, Christina Applegate, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler — currently living with MS tell of their struggles to be taken seriously, missing early signs, or difficulty receiving a proper diagnosis. 

This just reiterates that knowledge (and persistence) is power. As mentioned above, the red flags for multiple sclerosis are not always consistent. Here are the ones you should keep an eye out for as they are the most common. 

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Fatigue: An extremely prevalent symptom of MS is fatigue, which can be overwhelming and persistent, impacting daily activities and quality of life.

Numbness or Tingling: Many individuals with MS experience numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles sensation in various parts of the body, such as the face, arms, legs, or torso.

Muscle Weakness: MS can cause muscle weakness, stiffness, or difficulty with coordination and balance, making it challenging to perform everyday tasks.

Vision Problems: Optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve, is a common symptom of MS and can cause blurred vision, eye pain, or temporary loss of vision in one eye.

Cognitive Changes: MS can impact cognitive function, leading to problems with memory, concentration, problem-solving, and information processing.

Balance Issues: Some individuals with MS may experience difficulties with balance, coordination, and walking, increasing the risk of falls and mobility limitations.

Emotional Changes: MS can also affect emotions, leading to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, don’t dismiss your concern. Receiving an early diagnosis can make a significant difference in treatment effectiveness. Healthcare providers typically use a combination of relevant information and tests to rule out other conditions with similar indicators. One of the key steps in the process for diagnosing multiple sclerosis in patients is conducting a comprehensive medical history and physical exam. 

Omnia Health sets the highest standards in thoroughly understanding our patients’ concerns and experiences while implementing the proper testing. A qualified healthcare provider should take the time to review your family history, current symptoms, and previous medical conditions. A comprehensive physical exam, focusing on neurological function, strength, reflexes, coordination, and sensation, will also be conducted. Additionally, the following tests are extremely helpful in identifying the presence of MS among patients.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Evoked potential tests

While the exact cause of multiple sclerosis remains unknown, factors such as genetics, environmental triggers, and immune system dysfunction, are believed to contribute to the development of the condition. Although MS cannot be entirely prevented, there are steps individuals can take to manage risk factors and potentially reduce the odds of developing MS or experiencing disease progression.

Prevention Strategies for Multiple Sclerosis

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques can support overall well-being and potentially reduce the risk of developing MS. Additionally, it is helpful to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels through supplementation or sun exposure may be beneficial as some studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of developing MS or experiencing disease activity. 

Managing and treating existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, can help support immune system function and overall wellness, potentially reducing the risk of MS-related complications.

Understanding the signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevention strategies related to MS can empower individuals to take proactive steps to support their health and well-being. Multiple sclerosis is a complex neurological condition that requires comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, and management by healthcare professionals who truly understand the multi-faceted aspects of this disease.

Regular medical check-ups and discussions with healthcare providers play a major role in proactive health management. Optimizing outcomes and overall quality of life starts with prioritizing your well-being. 

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