When it comes to multiple sclerosis, mastering your own understanding of the disease means you need to mind your P’s and Q’s, dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and recite your ABCs. There is so much to know about this complex disease, but the more you know as a patient (or caregiver), the more informed you will be in making critical healthcare decisions.
This week, I offer five terms for the letter “A” in the MS alphabet that you might encounter and wish to master.
Abnormal reflexes are a symptom of the disease. Reflexes are muscle movements that respond to signals sent to them from the brain. Abnormal reflexes occur when there’s a problem with the delivery of the signal. This could cause a malfunctioning muscle to occur, or for multiple responses to a single signal to occur.
ACTH is an abbreviation. It stands for adrenocorticotropic hormone. This hormone stimulates the adrenal glands to release another class of hormones known as glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are anti-inflammatory in nature; they help to reduce swelling and relieve other effects of inflammation. Since the 1970s, ACTH has been thought to reduce the duration of MS episodes.
Recent synthetic forms of glucocorticoids, such as prednisone and cortisone, were developed so they could be administered directly to a patient having an MS episode. This eliminated the need to wait for the body to release ACTH to stimulate the adrenal glands on its own. These synthetic hormones are more potent, last longer, and result in less sodium retention and potassium loss than those naturally occurring in the body.
Activities of Daily Living can indicate how ability and disability are influenced by MS. These include any tasks a person performs on a daily basis as part of their personal care regimen, such as cooking, dressing, or bathing. It also can include a person’s ability to perform at a job, manage housework, pay bills, or participate in normal leisure activities (such as a softball league).
When MS symptoms disrupt one’s ability to participate in Activities of Daily Living, it may be possible for them to pursue disability.
Adhesion molecules are part of the biology of MS. These molecules adhere, or stick, to specific kinds of cells in order to capture them. They serve to bind together cells so they can communicate and interact. Adhesion molecules bolster cell development and growth. They also identify pathogens, facilitate healthy inflammatory response, and repair tissue damage.
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