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Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) can be challenging. But the experts at Lutheran Multiple Sclerosis Center are here to help you with every step of your diagnosis and treatment. The center has a multidisciplinary team that provides comprehensive medical care to patients living with MS. The team includes an MS specialist, MS certified nurse, neuropsychologist, physical therapist, social worker and nutritionist.

What is MS?
MS is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system that affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. There are several different types of MS. "The most common kind is called relapsing-remitting," said Nada Abou-Fayssal, M.D., a board certified neurologist and director of the Lutheran Multiple Sclerosis Center. "In this type of MS, symptoms develop over days or weeks and then improve over weeks or months. Patients may be fine for months or years before new symptoms occur."

The symptoms vary from person to person. Vision problems are often the first symptoms to occur. People with MS might experience double vision or loss of vision in one eye. Other symptoms might include:
   · Memory problems
   · Heat sensitivity
   · Fatigue
   · Bladder problems

Risk Factors
MS usually affects young adults in their twenties or thirties and is less common in people over fifty. Women are twice as likely as men to have MS. Many different factors seem to play a role in who develops MS. There appears to be a genetic predisposition for the disease. The risk of developing MS is slightly increased if a parent or a sibling has the disease. Environmental factors and geography seem to be important factors in disease prevalence. People who live farther away from the equator have a higher prevalence of developing MS. "This might mean that people who are exposed to less sunlight in their childhood are more likely to develop the disease," Dr. Abou-Fayaal said.

Treatment and Medications
There is no cure for MS, but there are disease modifying drugs (DMDs) that can help decrease the number of relapses in the relapsing forms of MS and slow down the disease progression. The key is to seek care early and start treatment after the first attack. For relapses, the use of steroids or other immunomodulating therapies may shorten the duration of the relapse.

For more information about the Lutheran Multiple Sclerosis Center, click here. To make an appointment with Dr. Abou-Fayssal, please call 718-630-7316.

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