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Dispelling The 5 Common Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis

Dispelling The 5 Common Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis


More than 2.3 million people worldwide and approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. People who live with MS experience symptoms ranging from mobility issues to cognitive problems. About 85 percent of those are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form of the disease.

It is important to ensure that people with relapsing forms of MS (as well as their loved ones and caregivers) are empowered with up-to-date and accurate information is an important step to helping them understand this debilitating disease. Dr. Peter Wade, Medical Director for Neurology at the Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research in Hartford, CT. spoke with me recently to address some of the most common myths of Multiple Sclerosis, and to share information on a newly approved treatment option for relapsing-forms of MS.

 Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis 

Myth: Having MS means you can’t be physically active

Dr. Wade:  People who are under my care who have MS actually live fairly normal lives. They work, they raise their family, they have children, etc. In fact, I recommend that [people with MS] be physically active. In the past, we [Doctors] used to recommend that patients rest and take it easy most of the time. However, it turned out that doing so was detrimental to them and did more harm than good. By exercising on a regular basis, people with MS can improve their overall quality of life.


Myth: What’s on your Holiday dinner table will impact your MS

Dr. Wade:  Contrary to belief, there are no specific dietary restrictions with MS. People with MS can enjoy a Holiday feast while following a general healthy diet of low fat, fiber, and fruits and vegetables.


Myth: MS is more prevalent in certain ethnicities or races

Dr. Wade: Initially, MS was thought to be more common in the Caucasian ethnicity and of Northern and European ancestry, and even Scottish, Ireland, and Northern Europe ancestry. Now that more research has been conducted on a global scale, we now know that MS has a very wide prevalence. MS is a condition that affects all cultures and races.


Myth:  MS means you can’t start a family

Dr. Wade: It is not a rule that people with MS should not have children. Most people with MS generally lead normal, healthy lives, including raising a family. It really depends on the level of physically impairment and resources available. In regards to risks to the Mother, the risk of MS attacks slightly decreases during pregnancy, then increases after childbirth; and balances out over a woman’s lifespan whether she becomes pregnant or not. The chance of newborns developing MS is 1 in 20 to 1 in 25; with the onset not occurring until 15 to 20 years into the child’s life thanks to the new treatments for MS that are currently available.

Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis

Myth: There are only a few treatment options for MS

Dr. Wade: Twenty years ago, the only treatments that were available for MS were ‘rest and a normal diet.’ There are now a total of eleven FDA-approved medications available to treat MS. One of the most recent ones is Plegridy™ an injectable medication used with a pre-filled pen (autoinjector) or pre-filled syringe. Plegridy is a treatment for people with relapsing forms of MS. With proper and regular use, Plegridy helps to decrease the chances of the next MS attack, as well as the chance of patients becoming disabled. As with any medications, there are possible side-effects and risks. Some of the risks with Plegridy are liver problems or worsening of liver problems, heart problems, depression, serious allergic reactions, and injection site reactions. Some of the possible side-effects with Plegridy include flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, chills, fever, muscle aches, and sweating.

With a much broader range of treatment options available, it is important that people with MS talk with their Physician about the risks and benefits of the medications options, and make an informed decision together on which treatment option is best for them.   


One last note: Other health habits that impact MS

Dr. Wade: One thing that is not stressed enough is the impact of smoking. People with MS that smoke actually have more attacks. I emphasize to all of my MS patients who smoke to stop smoking immediately. Every cigarette that they smoke increases their chance of becoming more and more disabled.

Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis

While the progression, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another, there is great comfort in the fact that there are medicines available for the treatment of MS, and there is hope. With the wide variety of treatments available to help decrease the severity of MS and the attack rate, MS patients can live a normal quality of life. Having a talk with a Physician to discuss medicine and treatment options is the best thing that a person with MS and their loved ones can do.


Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis

To learn more about the myths of Multiple Sclerosis and medicines currently available to help treat MS, visit the National Multiple Sclerosis website at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org. To learn more about the medical treatment Plegridy and resources for MS, visit: www.plegridy.com.

Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis


dr peter wade Myths Of Multiple SclerosisAbout Dr. Wade:

Dr. Wade is Medical Director for Neurology at the Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research in Hartford, Connecticut.

Myths Of Multiple Sclerosis

Wife. Mom. Believer. Writer. Advocate.

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