Every day, people living with MS do whatever it takes to move their lives forward despite the challenges.

MS Awareness Week 2019 is March 10-16 and people everywhere are creating connections stronger than those MS destroys.

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS.

Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

The cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe the disease is triggered by an as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond.

The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

In multiple sclerosis, the body’s own immune system targets the central nervous system (CNS) and causes damage to important cells and tissues. Damage to the myelin coating around the nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS) and to the nerve fibers themselves interferes with the transmission of nerve signals between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body. Disrupted nerve signals cause the symptoms of MS, which vary from one person to another and over time for any given individual, depending on where and when the damage occurs.

Scientists believe MS is triggered by a combination of factors. To identify the cause, research is ongoing in areas of immunology (the study of the body’s immune system), epidemiology (the study of disease patterns in large groups of people) and genetics (understanding the genes that may not be functioning correctly in people who develop MS). Scientists are also studying infectious agents that may play a role.

The diagnosis of MS requires evidence of at least two areas of damage in the CNS, which have occurred at different times.

Prevalence of MS More Than Doubles Estimate

Nearly one million people are living with MS in the United States, more than twice the original estimate.

A new study funded by the National MS Society has confirmed that nearly one million people are living with MS in the United States, more than twice the original estimate from a previous study. This breakthrough is a pivotal moment in the MS movement as a scientifically sound measure of prevalence helps us better understand the disease and its impact. With twice as many people living with MS, solutions for MS are now twice as important.

In addition to the main paper outlining these results, two companion papers providing background information on prevalence in the U.S. and reviewing the study methods were also published in the February 15, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Helping others better understand this complex and unpredictable disease is critical to fueling the progress that changes lives for people affected by MS and ultimately will end the disease forever.

To learn more about MS or to help spread awareness about the disease during MS Awareness week, visit the MS Arkansas website at https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/ARR or 'Like' the National MS Society, Arkansas Facebook page by clicking the following link. https://m.facebook.com/NMSSarkansas/