is a still a lot to learn about multiple sclerosis. Here are some misconceptions
you may have heard. We'd like to clear them up.
"MS is fatal."
It isn't. Statistics
show that most people with MS have a near normal life span. Most deaths
associated with MS are due to complications in advanced, progressive stages
of the disease. Effective early treatment of MS should help to prevent
those complications. In very rare cases, MS is malignantly progressive
and may be fatal.
"Everyone with MS will be in a wheelchair sooner or later."
true. Many people with MS remain able to walk without help. However, the
likelihood of needing a mobility device increases the longer someone has
MS. In addition, people who are still able to walk may use a wheelchair,
cane, scooter, or other device to conserve energy or prevent injury from
falls. Only 25% of people with MS use a wheelchair or stay in bed because
they are unable to walk, according to a well-designed
survey completed before the new disease-modifying drugs became
"Because there is no cure for MS, there's nothing that can be done
It is true that there
is no cure for MS yet, but there are now FDA-approved medications that
have been shown to modify or slow down the underlying course of
MS. In addition, many therapeutic and technological advances are helping
people manage symptoms and lead productive lives. Advances in treating
and understanding MS are made every year and progress in research to find
a cure is very encouraging.
should stop working. The stress will aggravate my MS."
There is no scientific
evidence that the normal stress of working has any effect on MS. But symptoms,
such as fatigue, can cause problems on the job. Approximately 30% of people
with MS are working full-time after 20 years. The National MS Society
thinks that number could be higher, and works to change the attitudes
of employers and employees alike.
"I shouldn't have children. I can't be a good parent with MS."
Children are far less
fragile than you think, and are more able to accept painful realities
than we generally assume. Parents often try to protect their children
by hiding painful issues, but open and honest communication among family
members is valuable and important.
family may include a person who doesn't always feel well, and needs extra
help. The sharing you do together can make your family feel close. Just
as the experience of MS itself varies from person to person, so too do
the concerns of families.
Even if a parent can't
go skating or go on long hikes, there are many things families can do
together. It's important to be supportive and let kids express their feelings.
Most women with MS
find their symptoms lessen during pregnancy. Then, the risk of
an attack rises somewhat in the first six months after delivery. Overall,
pregnancy and childbirth have no long-term effect on MS.
Those who worry that
their children will develop MS should know that the risk is actually very
small: somewhere between 1% and 5%.
"Natural treatments are "safer" than prescription medication."
to rage about the value of alternative approaches. Advocates of alternative
therapies sometimes claim that conventional medicine is ignoring or suppressing
treatments that can alleviate symptoms or even cure some diseases.
Opponents of alternative therapies maintain that conventional medicine
adopts whatever therapies can be proven safe and effective, and they challenge
the advocates of unproven treatments to produce the scientific evidence
that will substantiate their claims.
dietary claim has yet held up in scientific studies. However, for general
good health, people with MS are strongly advised to follow the low-fat,
high-fiber, varied diet recommended by the American Heart Association
and the American Cancer Society.
"No one will love me now that I have MS."
the challenges of MS draws many couples closer together. Talking
about problems and developing solutions can deepen both partners
sense of intimacy.
does not have to disappear from the lives of couples when one partner
has MS. Instead, partners can find satisfying approaches to sexual
intimacy that overcome the barriers.
"No one can possibly understand what I'm going through."
Americans acknowledge having MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed.
Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.
our network of chapters, the National MS Society offers support programs
for everyone affected by MS, including referral to chapter-affiliated
"Scientists aren't making much progress in the fight against MS."
There has never been a more exciting time in MS research. Until 1993 there were no medicines that could alter the underlying disease, and now there are six approved drugs for different forms of MS. The National MS Society is spending $ 40 million every year to fight MS, including funding more than 3 50 in-depth investigations into virtually every aspect of this disease.