What you should know about Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

April 9, 2012 Bobbie (Barbara) J. Severson, ARNP

You hear the diagnosis multiple sclerosis (MS) and your world stops. You don’t know what to think, who to tell, or what to do about your future.

In this video, four people living with MS tell their stories:

But even if you aren’t diagnosed with MS, here are some things you should know:

  1. MS is the 3rd most expensive disease of young adults behind trauma and cancer.
  2. There are about 400,000 people living with MS in the United States and about 200 more people being diagnosed every week.
  3. If you work in a company with 125 employees, at least one of your coworkers may have MS.
  4. MS affects women about 2-3 times more often than men. However, newer data suggests the female to male ratio may actually be as high as 3-4 times more common in women than men.
  5. If you have MS, for every known MS ‘exacerbation’ you know you have, you can have up to 10 silent attacks that you are not aware of.
  6. MS occurs in 2-5% of people 18 years and younger. This means children and teenagers get the disease. However, most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
  7. MS occurs in people of color. For example, African Americans, Asians, and Latinos get MS, but it is most common in Caucasians.
  8. Having a close relative with MS (parent, sibling, child) increases your risk of MS.

  9. Pregnancy may reduce a woman’s risk of developing MS.

  10. Pregnancy in women who already have MS is linked with lower rates of relapse. This association may help explain why incidence of MS is increasing, over the past few decades, as more women delay pregnancy, are having fewer babies, or having none at all.

  11. Too often, people with MS, impulsively quit their jobs without realizing they can continue working.

The above information illustrates how much MS can impact all parts of your life and the lives of everyone you know and love. The disease is complex and ever changing. Just when you think you have things figured out, MS can surprise you. The disease affects mind, body, and spirit.

To equip yourself in dealing with MS, you need to assemble the most advanced team you can find. This team exists at the Swedish MS Center in Seattle. The Multiple Sclerosis Center is the largest and most comprehensive MS Center in the country. We aim is to help people achieve their highest level of health and well-being and to keep people as independent as possible.

To do this, the Center’s mission is to focus on all people affected by MS. We work toward this mission by providing a comprehensive and integrative approach to all aspects of care; incorporating state of the art research into clinical practice; utilizing wellness strategies for optimal fitness; hosting ongoing educational programs for patients, families, and MS professionals; engaging in employment and disability guidance; and enhancing the growth and development of children/teenagers in reaching their full potential in school and beyond. This is especially important to the Pacific NW community because we have the largest MS population in the United States.

The vision of the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center is grand. We will provide you with excellence in care through collaboration, innovation, research, education, and compassion as you embark on life’s journey. We deal exclusively with MS. We work for you. We are your team. If you are diagnosed with MS, we will help you navigate this new phase of your life.

(If you would like a virtual look at the new home for the Swedish MS center, take a look at these pictures.)


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