March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month In the United States. (Canada will celebrate in May.) Although Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be understood as a neurodegenerative disorder, it is defined as an autoimmune disorder because the immune systems of sufferers attack their own central nervous systems, damaging the myelin sheath of neurons. This damage causes miscommunication and missed messages between the brain and the nerves. MS can be a very emotionally heavy diagnosis because it is chronic, there is no known cure, and it a very unpredictable disorder. MS can effect any function controlled by the central nervous system.
Symptoms tend to come episodically without any warning. One day a person with MS may be functioning just fine and the next muscle weakness may inhibit walking. These symptoms can also terminate without any warning. The unpredictable nature can be very stressful, the lack of a cure can be disheartening, and the often degenerative nature of the disorder can be depressing.
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