FAQs About Multiple Sclerosis
A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) often leaves patients and their families with many unanswered questions. It can be hard to find information, connect with other patients, and find support.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about MS:
What is MS?
MS is an autoimmune disease — the body mistakenly produces antibodies against the protective coating that surrounds the nerve cell extensions, also called the myelin sheath. This attack damages the protective coating, leaving nerves exposed and vulnerable to damage.
How do I know if I have MS?
The symptoms of MS can vary from person to person. Many patients experience fatigue, muscle weakness or cramps, and numbness or tingling in the face or hands. Some patients have difficulty walking, and may have problems with the bladder or bowels. Vision problems (such as blurred or double vision) may also be caused by MS.
Read more about “MS Symptoms.”
Is MS contagious?
No, MS is not contagious; it cannot be transmitted from person to person. The exact causes of MS are not clear. It may be a combination of factors, from environmental exposures to genetic factors, that cause the disease to develop. It is also likely that causes vary from person to person.
Read more about “Causes of MS.”
Can my children inherit MS?
There isn’t a clear genetic cause of MS, but siblings and children of people with MS seem more likely to develop the disease. This could be because of the inheritance of genetic risk factors associated with the disease or a similar environment.
How will doctors know I have MS?
An MS diagnosis is generally confirmed by eliminating all the other conditions that might be responsible for the symptoms a patient is experiencing. This can be very frustrating, as patients must undergo a large number of tests before a final diagnosis can be reached. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can indicate whether a patient has lesions in the brain. Neurological tests can indicate problems with nerve signals that might be caused by MS, and biochemical changes in cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) can also indicate MS.
Read more about “MS Diagnosis.”
Is there a cure for MS?
There is not yet a cure for MS, but there are treatments available, which can alleviate disease symptoms, increase lifespan, and improve patients’ quality of life.
Read more about “Approved Treatments.”
What are the types of MS?
Patients are grouped based on the type of MS they have. This is generally determined by how symptoms start, and how quickly the disease progresses. The four main types of MS are clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and secondary progressive MS (RPMS).
Read more about “Types of MS.”
Can diet help my MS symptoms?
There are indications that diet can have an impact on MS. Vitamin D deficiency may have a negative effect on disease symptoms, so patients should ensure they are getting enough vitamins in their diet. Many patients try to include foods that have been shown to be anti-inflammatory (leafy greens, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, beans, lentils, and nuts) and avoid foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, cheese, and full-fat dairy, which may promote inflammation.
Read more about “Eating Healthy with MS.”
Where can I get more information about MS?
We regularly publish articles on our website that cover a range of news about MS research, including new treatment options in development.
These organizations also offer information about treatments and ongoing research in MS:
- Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
- Multiple Sclerosis International Federation
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
- North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) Registry
We also have a number of columnists who regularly write about the challenges of day-to-day life with MS:
- MSunderstood Millenial by Stephanie Towler
- Silver Linings by Jennifer Powell
- Engaging Thoughts by Laura Kalczkowski
- The MS Wire by Ed Tobias
- Faith of the Mustard Seed by Debi Wilson
- You’ve Got Some Nerves by Judy Lynn
- Make Change Happen by Paula Hardin
- Patiently Awakened by Teresa Wright-Johnson
- Making a Difference by Cathy Chester
- A Life in Letters by Jamie Hughes
- MS in Moderation by Tamara Sellman
- Fall Down, Get Up Again by John Connor
- MS in Motion by Mike Knight
Where can I talk to other MS patients and families?
We have MS forums where patients can meet and discuss a variety of topics. New topics are posted frequently. If you don’t see a topic you’re interested in, message the moderators to get a conversation started!
Last updated: Sept. 20, 2019
Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.