Even though it was discovered in 1868, there is still no known cause or cure and it appears to be affecting growing numbers of people. Part of the problem lies in explaining MS, as it has unpredictable symptoms and each individual experiences MS differently and with different intensity. The disease affects the central nervous system and happens when your immune system attacks the myelin, which is the fatty material protecting your nerve fibres. Without the protection of the myelin, the nerves become damaged and your brain is unable to send signals correctly through your body.
Symptoms usually appear when people are between the ages of 20 to 40 and will depend on where the nerve damage occurs. Some common symptoms experienced are:
- Visual problems – blurred, double or loss of vision;
- Tingling and numbness in the face, arms, legs, or fingers;
- Fatigue and weakness;
- Bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction;
- Cognitive problems – including memory, attention span, language, and difficulty staying organised; and,
See your doctor if you experience any of the first warning signs. The diagnosis is made by a specialist neurologist, who will check for damage to the central nervous system. With treatments now available, early diagnosis can slow down the progression of MS.
MS Societies provide valuable services to people living with MS and their family members. They are a vital health service, yet they rely on fund-raising to be able to continue to operate. Awareness Week starts on 28 August. If you see street collectors during this week please give generously. Donations can also be done through their Givealittle page: givealittle.co.nz/donate/org/msaucklandregion