World MS Day: May 30, 2018. World MS Day unites individuals and organizations from around the world to raise awareness and move us closer to a world free of MS. The theme for 2018 was ‘Bringing Us Closer’ and the theme is research.
Throughout this month, however, Multiple Sclerosis Friends and organizations, some of the country’s leading associations with the goal of disease and contribute to the early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and improvement in the quality of life, promotes the “August Orange” in Brazil.
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The idea is to draw attention to the disease that, although rare, affects about 35 thousand people in Brazil and 2.5 million worldwide. Even so, it is still quite unknown among Brazilians: 80% of the population does not even know what it is. And, a recent survey conducted by the Datafolha Institute, commissioned by Roche Farma Brasil and made in São Paulo, showed that most Paulistas do not associate the disease with the most affected group, young adults from 20 to 40 years. Here’s what you need to know about the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that strikes the central nervous system. Basically, the body’s defence confuses healthy cells with malignant ones and attacks them, causing lesions. The word comes from the Latin “sclerae”, which means scar.
The exact causes are unknown, which makes early diagnosis even more important. There is research that points out that there may be relationships between genetics, the environment in which the person lives and even viruses, such as mononucleosis and herpes. There are also some studies that suggest that hormones, especially sex hormones, can affect and be affected by the immune system.
Who does it affect?
If the causes are still unknown, the risk group is more established: women are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis, a ratio of three to one. Although it can occur at any stage of life, the most affected population is between 20 and 40 years old. The median age of diagnosis is 30 years. It also affects more European populations, southern Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand and southeast Australia, although it is not known exactly why.
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What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of multiple sclerosis are usually: blurred or double vision, fatigue, tingling, loss of strength, lack of balance, muscle spasms, chronic pain, depression, cognitive difficulty, sexual problems and urinary incontinence. They may come and go or be longer. Because of the many symptoms, the diagnosis can be difficult and includes blood tests, lumbar puncture, MRI, and evoked potential examination (which measures the signals sent by the brain in response to stimuli).
Is there a treatment?
The disease has no cure but can be controlled and treatment consists mainly of managing seizures, controlling the symptoms and ensuring the progression of the disease. It involves medications that suppress the immune system, reduces fatigue and relaxes muscles, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises.