What is Multiple Sclerosis?

What is Multiple Sclerosis Medical ID Bracelet

Multiple Sclerosis, often called MS, is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system. Although people refer to MS as an autoimmune disease, experts consider it an “immune-mediated” disease. According to the National MS Society, “The exact antigen – or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack – remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be ‘immune-mediated’ rather than ‘autoimmune.’”

MS has both genetic and environmental cause factors and typically progresses in one of four, “disease courses,” all of which can range from mild to moderate or severe:

  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS): This most common disease course of MS involves a cycle of flare-ups and remissions.
  • Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS): Typically, a person with RRMS will be re-diagnosed with SPMS as the disease progresses. This disease course is marked by further disease progression and may or may not include remission periods.
  • Primary-progressive MS (PPMS): Approximately 10% of people with MS receive a PPMS diagnosis, which is identified by consistent disease progression and the absence of remissions.
  • Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS): PRMS is characterized by steady disease progression from diagnosis with flare-ups and no remissions.

Each disease course of Multiple Sclerosis has its unique set of challenges and requires different treatment. Currently, the National MS Society reports that, “…twelve (.pdf article) U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved disease-modifying agents (.pdf brochure) reduce disease activity and disease progression for many people with relapsing forms of MS, including relapsing-remitting MS, as well as secondary-progressive and progressive-relapsing MS in those people who continue to have relapses.”

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