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Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What is MS?
2. MS symptoms
3. What causes the disease?
4. How is MS diagnosed?
5. Will I end up in a wheelchair?
6. Is MS fatal?
7. Is MS contagious?

1. What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic central nervous system disease. MS occurs when myelin (the protective material around the axons) comes under attack. As a result, electrical impulses to and from the brain arrive late, confused or fail completely. Symptoms depend on which areas of the central nervous system have been attacked. People with MS usually experience movement disorders, poor coordination, difficulties in vision and speech. Multiple sclerosis is not directly inherited. This disease is not contagious nobody will catch it from those affected by MS.
As a rule, most MS patients experience their first symptoms between the ages of 20 to 40. The disease is unpredictable. No one can tell you what will happen next. MS usually goes through periods of exacerbation and remission. Sometimes the disease goes without obvious remissions.
It is important to consult a neurologist during exacerbation period. If MS patient is treated in due time, some symptoms may disappear and the disease wont lead to disability. To estimate changes in patients conditions it is desirable that original neurologist would observe a person with MS. However, people with MS may consult other doctors, especially, if they doubt the diagnosis.
Everything that makes immune system more active can cause exacerbations. The triggers are contagious diseases (for instance, flu), severe injuries, operations, stress, medications that stimulate immunocompetence, etc.
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2. MS Symptoms

MS symptoms depend on which areas of CNS (central nervous system) have been damaged. Not all MS patients are affected the same way.
MS symptoms vary not only in some people; from time to time they may vary in the same person. Symptoms also vary in severity and duration. Usually a person with MS experiences more than one symptom, but not all of them!
MS symptoms include fatigue, movement disorders, poor coordination (unstable walking), problems with vision, vertigo, numbness, weakness, tingling, bladder and bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, sensitivity to heat, disturbance of memory function.
Remember no one affected by MS experiences all these symptoms!
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3. What causes the disease?

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is yet to be identified. Most professionals believe MS to be an autoimmune disease. What does that exactly mean?
Normally, the immune system protects the body from numerous viruses or bacteria. In autoimmune disease, the body, through the immune system, attacks its own tissue. In multiple sclerosis, myelin (protective coating around the axons) comes under attack. The researchers havent identified yet what makes the immune system attack myelin. However, the scientists are working hard, they have learned a lot in recent years and feel positive about the future.
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4. How is MS diagnosed?

There is no single laboratory test for identifying MS. First of all you should consult a neurologist. Your medical history is important there may be an evidence of past signs and symptoms.
For an accurate diagnosis MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain is needed. MRI produces detailed pictures of the brain.
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5. Will I end up in a wheelchair?

Seventy-five percent (75%) of MS patients never use a wheelchair in their lifetime.
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6. Is multiple sclerosis fatal?

No. MS is not fatal. Almost all people with MS are expected to have a normal life expectancy.
Most MS patients may continue leading an active life-style.
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7. Is MS contagious?

No. MS is not contagious. Nobody can catch this disease from MS patient. Moreover, MS is not directly inherited. Studies only indicate that some genetic factors may make certain persons more susceptible to multiple sclerosis. However, 80 percent of those affected by MS do not have close relatives with MS.

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In the section Publications you can find the latest data on multiple sclerosis from the 3rd Republican Neurology School Multiple Sclerosis. Medico-social aspects.