I’ve been putting this off for a while because I’m not directly involved with anyone who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). That’s a mild way of saying that I, my wife, my children and my wife’s relatives (who live in close proximity to me in the Philippines) are not associated with the disease. I have a sister who was diagnosed with it within the last few years, but it’s been a long time since I last spoke to her.
A Mysterious Disease
The reason it’s mysterious is because the cause of the disease has yet to be discovered. Medical researchers can track the disease, once it’s discovered, and they know the damage it causes to the human body, but they can’t isolate a single treatment for it. Most of the treatments are based on theory, not hard facts.
A WordPress plugin author, Andy Bailey just announced he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. What I found interesting, aside from his incredible sense of humor about it, were the comments about how to treat it by people who either suffer from MS themselves or are associated with people who suffer from it. It seems that one treatment may work for one person and something completely different may work for another.
There are a number of risk factors associated with MS. You can read about them at the Wikipedia page for Multiple Sclerosis. Since the cause of the disease is unknown, the only things doctors can target are risk factors.
One statement I noted was “The risk of acquiring MS is higher in relatives of a person with the disease than in the general population, especially in the case of siblings, parents, and children.” I have four brothers and four sisters. My parents, both deceased, were never diagnosed with the disease (they had conditions that were far worse) and only one sister has been diagnosed with the disease. I would have to say that the statement doesn’t seem to have any basis in fact.
Another statement I noted was “Decreased sunlight exposure has been linked with a higher risk of MS. Decreased vitamin D production and intake has been the main biological mechanism used to explain the higher risk among those less exposed to sun.” This statement may actually have some basis in fact because some people are claiming relief by taking extra vitamin D supplements.
According to what I’ve read, those diagnosed with MS tend to have a life expectancy of five to ten years less than those without any diseases. That’s a strange statement because more people are living longer in each succeeding generation. Since people are living longer, diseases that didn’t seem to affect senior citizens are cropping up all over the place.
The typical age group for being diagnosed with MS is 20-40 yet my sister was over 40 when she was diagnosed and she isn’t alone. I’ve already read comments from several people aged 50 and up being diagnosed with the condition. Is it possible that they’re being misdiagnosed and it’s actually something else? My wife wasn’t diagnosed with Alpha-Thalassemia until 2010, when she was 49 years of age. Before that, she went through many doctors trying to explain what was happening to her body and all but one fell short of the mark.
I don’t have any answers and from what I understand, most doctors don’t either.