Multiple Sclerosis The Inside Disease Multiple Sclerosis affects 350,000 people around the United States. Judy Rhamini, a forty- six-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed with the crippling disease in 1988. In late 1997, her attacks had become so devastating that one of them left her arms and legs temporarily paralyzed. To combat the attacks, Mrs. Rhamini began a four- hour daily regimen of intravenous steroids.
Within weeks, her pain was gone. Judy Rhamini now takes Avonex, which is a beta- interferon, and since beginning this treatment, she has only had two mild attacks. With advances in the medical field, there is now hope that a cure for multiple sclerosis will be found in the near future. Many new drugs are being developed to stunt the progression of multiple sclerosis. Some of these new drugs are being used today, and they are helping patients cope with the hardships of multiple sclerosis.
Judy Rhamini tells how Avonex has helped her; “My MS has definitely slowed down. I am so grateful.” However, to find a cure, scientists still have to come to a distinct conclusion to what causes this disease. The only way to rid a patient of this horrible disease is to attack the main culprit responsible for bringing the disease upon a person. Although scientists are not totally sure, there are many possibilities as to what causes multiple sclerosis. Scientists feel that there are two main possible causes for multiple sclerosis: the environment in which a person lives, and Herpes Virus 6.
Experts are not totally sure, but they are working out the problems, and are confident they will find the answer soon. Some viruses have been thought to be a cause, but it usually comes down to the environment in which a person lives. Speculations have been made that the environment in which a person lives, may be a cause for multiple sclerosis. There are approximately 350,000 Americans with MS, and estimates suggest that there are two hundred new cases diagnosed each week. With this in mind, it would make a person think that America is the environment to blame, and this just might be the case.
Researchers have found that the further one lives from the equator, the more likely one is to develop multiple sclerosis. Obviously, there has to be more causes for multiple sclerosis. There is no way one can develop a disease solely by living in a certain area. In addition to the environment, viruses common in the area may also bring on this disease. In the past, many viruses have been linked to multiple sclerosis.
The latest and strongest case has been Herpes Virus 6 (HHV-6). In a recent study, more than 70 percent of the patients tested showed signs of active infections of HHV-6. This made scientists and doctors feel as if they had found the cause, but they still did not have the 100 percent sure results they needed. The cause is still unknown, because HHV-6 may only be a symptom of multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis has many symptoms, and scientists fear that their latest discovery may just be that, an unfortunate symptom that patients will have to suffer with. Multiple sclerosis is not an easy disease to put a finger on.
Patients are often misdiagnosed, and are forced to cope with their symptoms until they are finally diagnosed correctly. Multiple sclerosis has many symptoms, some physical and some mental. The physical symptoms may be more difficult of the two to deal with. Multiple sclerosis can be diagnosed with the occurrence of many physical symptoms. Some debilitating physical symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be change in vision, abnormal sensations throughout the body, and muscle weakness.
Symptoms appear to patients in attacks and / or phases. Symptoms can appear and disappear in a matter of days or weeks. Many of the main physical symptoms go into remission for some time, but many may be permanent. Remember, most patients become paralyzed as the disease progresses. Along with physical symptoms, multiple sclerosis can bring on many mental changes to a person.
Multiple sclerosis brings on many problems to the mental capabilities of a patient. Multiple sclerosis can force a person to go through psychological changes that can be devastating to a person’s life. These changes can totally alter a patient’s personality, thereby causing problems throughout even a patient’s family. These changes and cognitive impairments can make a family feel as if they do not even know their loved one any longer. These symptoms may be seen from the outside, but the real damage is taking place inside a patient’s body and mind.
These devastating effects are enough to make any person’s jaw drop. The harmful effects multiple sclerosis has on a patient can be degenerating and irreversible. Multiple sclerosis can tear a family apart, just as the way the disease destroys a patient’s body. The disease is a heartless machine that will crush anything that gets in its way. The immune system is usually the first victim of the wrath of this horrifying disease.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that deteriorates a patient’s muscular and immune systems. Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease where cells use their weapons against the myelin sheath, T-cells that protect our immune system, and destroy them. Effects like this leave 30 percent of victims bound to a wheelchair after fighting the disease for twenty years. In addition to damaging the physical aspects of a person’s life, multiple sclerosis also attacks a patient’s brain. The disease actually severs nerve fibers in the brain, and that causes irreversible damage. This damage may cause a patient memory loss, the loss of cognitive skills, and even change a patient’s personality.
With these mental and physical changes, a patient’s normal family life may be changed around, and problems may be caused. Multiple sclerosis can put many unwanted pressures on family life. A patient struggling with MS may encounter many psychological changes. These changes may alter the patient’s memory, and his or her attitude towards the rest of one’s family. These variations may make a family feel as if they do not even know their loved one anymore. Multiple sclerosis can also put stress on a marriage. The spouse of a patient may begin to feel as if he or she were “being on call”, or the MS patient may feel as if he or she were “being a bother.” These effects can put a strain on a couple’s normal emotional life.
This disease may also put a strain on a family’s financial situation also. With the average annual cost for services and drugs being between $20,000 to $25,000, the prices of care taking can put a huge damper on a family’s checkbook. Medicines can account for about half of that cost, with the average annual cost for medications being around $10,000. Yet the prices for medications will still increase with the development of new drugs. Although a cure has not been found for multiple sclerosis, researchers are developing new drugs to treat the disease each and every day.
Traditional drugs have been around for a long time, but all they do is put a damper on some symptoms for a short period of time. The new drugs being developed are made in hopes of curing multiple sclerosis, and many of these have a great affect on the body. The most affective drugs out on the market now are beta-interferons. Beta-interferons are the newest general type of drugs being produced to treat multiple sclerosis. If beta-interferons, such as Avonex, are used very early in diagnosis, then patients may do better. The likelihood of stopping the disease becomes less and lesser as time goes on. However, with the help of Avonex, the gradual loss of brain tissue can be prevented. Avonex has also been proven to slow the shrinkage of brain tissue, therefore, lengthening a patient’s time of keeping his or her mental abilities strong.
In addition to Avonex, other beta-interferons have been produced. Three of these drugs are Novantrone, Baclofen, and Copaxine. All three of these drugs have been shown to modestly reduce the number and severity of MS symptoms. These drugs have been applied to patients, and have been found to have minimal side effects. Other drugs have been produced, and would be placed on the market if it were not due to their harmful side effects.
Beta-interferons have been found to have minimal side effects such as chills and inflammation of the injection site. Other more productive drugs have been developed that may not be used because they tend to do more harm than they do good. Two examples of drugs like these are Cyclosporine and Prednisone. Prednisone has been found to reduce the severity of MS fits in patients, but brings upon acne, diabetes, hypertension, and even mood swings. Cyclosporine has also been proved to significantly slow the progression of neurological disorder, but its side effects are too toxic to do patients any good. Although these drugs still have some problems, scientists are headed in the right direction. With all the good these drugs can do, it is just a matter of time before a medication is found that will cure multiple sclerosis.
Although Multiple Sclerosis is a degenerative disease, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Technology has progressed so much over the years that there have been so many new discoveries about the disease. Now, when a person is diagnosed, there is hope. With the advances in the medical field, and with the accomplishments of the drugs that are being produced, there is hope for a cure. Suzanne Arens, a thirty-nine year old woman who was recently diagnosed, leaves on this note: “I used to see a wheelchair at the end of the tunnel, now I see a life.” With attitudes like this, people waiting for a cure will get what they deserve when the doctors do develop the way to relieve them of their suffering. Health Care.