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When Selma Blair went public with her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, she put a famous face and a voice to the disease many Canadians struggle with daily. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, impacting one in ever 385 Canadians.
Dr. Maria Campos breaks down what we should know about the disease.
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (i.e. brain and spinal cord). The disease forms antibodies that attack myeline, a protective covering of the nerves. Myelin is needed for the transmission of nerve signals and, if damaged, can affect brain and nerve function.
Who gets MS?
MS can happen at any age but it’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men, and it’s more common in people of Northern European backgrounds.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms vary depending on what parts of the nervous system are affected. Typical symptoms can include:
- Blurry vision
- Loss of coordination
- Sensory alterations
- Weakness in limbs
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Extreme fatigue
The symptoms have a duration of at least 24 hours with or without recovery. MS can be a challenging diagnosis to make if the patient presents insidious or less typical symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, heat intolerance, mood fluctuations, tremor and sexual dysfunction.
Watch the video clip above for more information about diagnosis and where we’re at in terms of finding a cure.