Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the myelin coating of the brain and spinal cord.  The progressive disability is due to repeated demyelination (stripping of the myelin) and scarring.  Women are more often affected than men and disease onset is usually in early adulthood.  The clinical symptoms are quite varied and can include visual loss, weakness, difficulty walking and even memory loss.  In the most common form of this disorder, Relapsing Remitting MS, symptoms come in distinct attacks, called flares.  There is usually improvement between flares in this form of MS. Other forms of MS include Primary Progressive, Secondary Progressive and Clinically Isolated Syndrome.  The characterization into one of these types of MS is based on the timing of flares and the degree of improvement following each. Prognosis for advancing disability differs among these subtypes of MS.

This disease affects between 2 and 150 persons per 100,000.  There is no proven cause of this disorder but it is thought to be caused by a viral infection that stimulated the immune system to attack the central nervous system.  Different environmental risk factors have been found, including living in the Northern Hemisphere and low vitamin D levels.  There is also some genetic predisposition to developing Multiple Sclerosis.

Over the last twenty years there has been development of many effective and well-tolerated therapies both to prevent flares and to improve quality of life.  These therapies can be oral, subcutaneous or intramuscular injections or intravenous infusions.  The choice of which medication will be used is highly individualized.  If one therapy fails, there are usually other options to choose from.  The prognosis for patients suffering from MS has improved dramatically over the last two decades and most MS patients lead normal lives.

Multiple Sclerosis Diet

There is no specific diet for MS.  As with all patients who suffer from chronic disorders, MS patients are best served by adhering to the same low-fat, high fiber diet recommended for maintenance of general good health in the general population.

There is some evidence to support a diet low in saturated fats and with Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplements.

Resources for MS patients

MS Atrium
MS LifeLines
National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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