World Multiple Sclerosis Day (World MS Day) is observed as a global healthcare event on May 30 every year. The day aims to recognise the economic, social, and cultural impact brought by multiple sclerosis disease and subsequently work on the acceptance, support, and inclusion of the patients suffering from the ailment.
Currently, it is estimated that there are about 28 lakh MS patients worldwide (i.e., 35.9 per lakh population). The incidence rate across 75 reporting countries is 2.1 per lakh per year, and the average age of diagnosis is 32 years. MS is more common in females compared to males.
While there is currently no cure for MS, there are treatment options available to manage symptoms, slow down the progression of the disease, and improve the quality of life for people with the disease.
This day plays a crucial role in highlighting the importance of early diagnosis, access to appropriate treatment and care, and ongoing support for those living with MS.
What is Multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that can potentially disable the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Myelin sheath is a fat covering around the nerve fibers that helps in the quick and efficient transmission of electrical impulses along the nerve cells. In MS, the myelin sheath gets disrupted by the attacks of the body’s immune system causing communicative issues between the brain and the body.
MS affects people mostly during their productive years, impacting their lives and society. Disease-modifying therapies can reduce disability and extend survival, but a cure is still lacking, and the cause of the disease is not fully understood.
Types of MS
The characterisation of MS types is essential in determining the effectiveness of treatments. Multiple Sclerosis comes in different forms, but there are four main types, which include:
1. Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) : Includes the first episode of neurological symptoms, which may or may not lead to MS.
2. Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS): Involves relapses of symptoms followed by periods of remission.
3. Secondary progressive MS (SPMS): In this case, progressive worsening of symptoms is seen as time progresses.
4. Primary progressive MS (PPMS): In this type of MS, steady worsening symptoms and disability are seen from the start.
Every individual experiences a different combination of symptoms. Its symptoms include fatigue, cognitive impairment, affective disorders, emotional burden, and diminished physical functioning, among various others.
The symptoms can be relieved with the right combination of treatments and medication. Furthermore, there is no permanent cure as of yet.