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World Multiple Sclerosis Day is observed every year on the last Wednesday of May worldwide to create public awareness on multiple sclerosis (MS) and to make life less difficult for people affected by multiple sclerosis. This year, it is being celebrated on May 30. The campaign for 2018 is called #bringinguscloser and the theme is research.

The #bringinguscloser campaign is about connecting people affected by MS with those involved in MS research, including scientists, students, nurses, fundraisers, volunteers, and more. It's a chance to come together to celebrate what has been achieved in MS research so far, and share the hopes for the future.

MS is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults. As about 60% of people with MS are not ambulatory 20 years after the onset, impairing their quality of life. MS can therefore impact on the social and economic wellbeing of the individual, as well as on their families. Most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. Despite the awareness of impacts of MS on individual and society, there is a serious lack of information about the resources available to address it.

Key facts:

  • The estimated number of people with MS has increased from 2.1 million in 2008 to 2.3 million in 2013.
  • MS is found in every region of the world.
  • There are twice as many women as men with MS overall.
  • The average age of MS onset is 30 years.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease in which the protective sheath that covers the nerves gets destroyed which disrupts the communication between brain and the rest of the body. This leads to difficulty in speech, sight and ability to move. Although the exact cause is unknown, it's considered an autoimmune disease.

Symptoms: MS can cause many symptoms including fatigue, weakness, numbness of the face, body, or extremities (arms and legs), dizziness, vision problems, walking difficulties, bladder and bowel problems, sexual problems, and emotional and cognitive changes. Symptoms are different for everyone who has the disease. Some people have mild symptoms while others may have severe trouble in doing their daily tasks. These problems may come and go or persist and worsen over time.

Diagnosis: There are no specific tests for MS. The medical history, clinical examination, lab tests and MRI imaging of the brain help physicians to rule out other diseases and confirm the MS diagnosis.

Management: There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Management of MS includes medication for slowing the progression of the disease and managing MS symptoms. Physiotherapy and lifestyle modification are also important aspect for improving the quality of life in person with MS.

Lifestyle modification includes:

  • Take plenty of rest.
  • Exercise regularly (such as swimming, walking, stretching, low impact aerobics, stationary bicycle, yoga and tai chi).
  • Avoid exposure to heat as MS symptoms worsen when body temperature rises.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Relieve stress by practicing Yoga, tai chi, massage, meditation or deep breathing.

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