According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases, and that number is on the rise. With autoimmune disorders, the body’s natural defense system (immune system) attacks itself and causes inflammation and damage to healthy tissue and organs.
Multiple Sclerosis is one of the growing autoimmune disorders, affecting the CNS (Central Nervous System), which is made up of the spine, brain and optic nerves. When the immune system attacks the CNS, the myelin sheath, which is the outer protective layer of the nerves, becomes inflamed and can begin to deteriorate. Multiple Sclerosis affects approximately 2.3 million Americans, but that number is thought to be much higher since the symptoms are often unspecified and confused with other disorders. The initial symptoms of MS often come and go, until the disease is much more advanced.
• Numbness & Tingling
• Balance Issues
• Vision Disorders
• Slurred Speech
• Cognitive Decline
• Lack of Concentration
• Burning Sensations
• Twitching Nerves & Muscles
As with most autoimmune diseases, there are genetic risk factors and environmental factors, but for the most part, the cause is unknown, and unfortunately, there is no cure. However, there are many new disease-modifying drugs that protect the immune system’s response, alleviating the attacks and providing longer periods of remission in between the relapses.
MS can affect all ages, but most people are diagnosed in their 40’s to 60’s. The disease severity and progression varies with each person. According to the National MS Society, the following are the four types and phases of MS:
• Clinically isolated syndrome – first episode of neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system.
• Relapsing-remitting MS – periods of relapses (also called attacks or exacerbations) that subside, with full or partial recovery, and no disease progression between attacks.
• Secondary progressive MS – a relapsing-remitting course that later evolves into a more consistently progressive course, with or without relapses.
• Primary progressive MS is characterized by a gradual but steady progression of disability from the onset of symptoms, with few or no relapses or remissions.
Autoimmune flares are when the body attacks itself. With MS, these flares are called exacerbations or relapses. An exacerbation can be mild to severe, but they will show signs of myelin inflammation and varying symptoms. An exacerbation can last from one day to a few weeks depending on your progression and treatment. Exacerbations are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids to tamp down the inflammation that is causing the symptoms.
Wellness plans play a role in keeping symptoms at bay. Eating a healthy diet, exercising and healthy behaviors are key components to keeping you healthier in general. Avoiding certain foods that cause inflammation in the body like gluten, saturated fats, and processed foods have helped many individuals. Along with eliminating certain foods, adding in anti-inflammatory nutrients is also very beneficial to staving off exacerbations. These foods include things like ginger, turmeric, omega-fatty acids, fruits and vegetables, and flaxseeds to name a few.
Managing MS With a Comprehensive Approach
The first step is to see an experienced MS Neurologist, one that specializes in this specific autoimmune disorder. You can expect to have ongoing MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and other diagnostic tests to diagnose and then follow your MS progression. Your Neurologist will work with you and your primary care provider, as well as provide you with a team of providers to manage your disease.
This team will include your physician, and depending on your needs, can also involve rehabilitative therapeutic professional like physical, occupational, and speech therapists, emotional and behavioral counselors and more.
Getting MS treated early is essential to your health. If you leave MS untreated, your progression could escalate rapidly. Disease modifying therapies now available to change disease course.
If you or someone you know has MS or MS-related symptoms, please call their office at (941) 487-2160
MS Center of Sarasota
5741 Bee Ridge Road, Suite 530
Sarasota, FL 34233
Located in the Sarasota Medical Centre next to Doctors Hospital of Sarasota (Corner of Bee Ridge Road and Cattlemen off of Maxfield Drive)
Donald Negroski, M.D.
Since 1986, Dr. Negroski has been providing care for adults suffering from neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis, headaches, dementia, seizures, strokes, and disorders of the nerves and muscles. In addition to his award-winning general neurology practice, he specializes in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and conducts clinical trials.
Dr. Negroski attended the Medical College of Ohio and completed his internship and residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. He has received many awards including America’s Top doctor. Dr. Negroski provides many diagnostic tests in the comfort of their office.