Said to have approximately affected 2.3 million individuals worldwide, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
The cause of MS is not entirely understood.
Many researchers suggest that the condition is an autoimmune disease that attacks the myelin sheath i.e. the protective layer surrounding the neurons that help electrical signals travel from the brain to the rest of the body.
Multiple Sclerosis poses serious impacts on patients' quality of life.
According to Dr Aziz B Sonawala, Consultant Neurologist, Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi, Typical symptoms of MS include blurry vision, temporary loss of eyesight, feeling of tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, pain and imbalance, problems with movement and coordination, inability to focus and think, difficulty in holding urine, sexual dysfunction and frequent fatigue.
What is common in all such symptoms is that they may recover for a while but recovery pattern is followed by repeat episodes of such attacks.
Each episode is followed by complete or partial recovery.
Essentially, Multiple Sclerosis has no cure. With the right diagnosis and early treatment, patients with MS can improve their quality of life.
In general, MS was considered to be a disease impacting people of the northern descent, say Europe, US, Canada and north of Asia. However, with improvement in diagnostic techniques more and more cases are now being identified in various parts of the world, including Pakistan.
Because symptoms of MS largely overlap with other diseases, patients end up misdiagnosed as a result of not consulting with the right doctor. The right specialist for treatment of such a disease is only a neurologist.
This is one reason why MS is not diagnosed in time and thus ends up taking years for patients to find the right treatment with the right neurologist for treatment.
The disease usually occurs in young people aged between 20-40 years and the right treatment enables them to lead their lives with minimal interference of the disease's symptoms.
Dr. Amer Ikram, one of the many neurologists furthering the cause behind letsbeatms.pk, comments on the significance of early detection and treatment of the disease:
With recent advancement in science and disease management techniques, treatments which help effectively control this disease are now available. Some of such treatments are now also available in Pakistan
For a more detailed look at this public awareness campaign, head over to www.letsbeatms.pk.
All information on Multiple Sclerosis is contributed by Dr. Aziz B Sonawala, Consultant Neurologist, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi.
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