Multiple Sclerosis Health Paper

Milano (2005) states that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease people live with for 30 to 40 years. That is a long time to be living with a disease so incapacitating. Many people do not know about Multiple Sclerosis and its effects on the individuals with this debilitating disease. Further insight will be given on the causes, prevalence, racial disparity, treatments, research, funding, and future studies. According to the Institute of Medicine, Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (Williamson, 2007).

Multiple Sclerosis affects the body’s neurons, the cells of the brain and spinal cord that carry information, create thought and perception, and allow the brain to control the body. Surrounding many of these neurons is a fatty layer known as the myelin sheath, which helps neurons carry electrical signals. Multiple Sclerosis causes the myelin sheath to gradually deteriorate. When the myelin sheath is destroyed, the neurons can no longer efficiently conduct their electrical signals.

Multiple Sclerosis can cause a variety of symptoms which range from visual, sensation problems, muscle weakness, slurred speech, pain, severe fatigue, cognitive impairment, and depression. According to King (2007), it has been established that Multiple Sclerosis is not a single-gene disorder. It involves multiple genes interacting with an environmental trigger or triggers. Research points toward infections rather than something toxic in air, water, or food as a triggering agent, though recent evidence hints that lack of sun exposure, leading to lower vitamin D levels, may play a role (King, 2007).

Much has been learned about the damage of Multiple Sclerosis, but the exact cause remains a mystery. Nicholas LaRocca, study’s project officer and director of Health Care Delivery and Policy Research for the National MS Society, explains that it is very important to understand the medical progression and what happens to people with Multiple Sclerosis over the years (Milano, 2005). Williamson (2007) estimates that the number of people affected in the United States range from 250,000 to 350,000.

According to Williamson (2007), a study done between January 1998 and December 2000 determined the prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis in 19 Texas counties. The study was done with the help of offices of neurologists practicing in the study area, whom allowed the medical records to be reviewed. Several communities in Texas became concerned about the high number of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis that they decided to contact the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

However, DSHS were not able to address the concerns because of the lack of basic epidemiological data on the disease. The 19 counties centered on the city of Lubbock, Texas continues to be constantly monitored because of the relatively isolated geographic location. It was also found that the majority of the people being diagnosed were women. Caucasian women were also found to be more likely to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis than men or women from another race.

It is known through research that Multiple Sclerosis occurs less often in African-Americans than Caucasians, but African Americans tend to have the most aggressive forms of Multiple Sclerosis (“Racial disparity”, 2005). It was also known that African Americans were at a higher risk for disability. Dr. Bruce Cee and colleagues at the University of California reviewed the medical records of 375 African-Americans with Multiple Sclerosis from 33 states and 427 Caucasians with Multiple Sclerosis from 37 states and this review revealed that the mix of types of Multiple Sclerosis were similar between both groups (“Racial disparity”, 2005).

Results from another test being done on African-Americans and Caucasians with Multiple Sclerosis in nursing homes showed that while the African-Americans were more disabled than the Caucasians, they received fewer medications and the same amount of physical, occupational, speech and mental-health therapies regardless of the greater need of more assistance. Treatment and therapy for Multiple Sclerosis can delay additional damage, but the initial damage can not be taken away. Multiple Sclerosis is not a disease you get and die of immediately.

More than likely the individual will live many years, but in those years the individual will endure a lot of pain and suffering. Exercise is a form of therapy for Multiple Sclerosis which preserves function and treats depression. Hypnosis has also been used to mitigate the pain that Multiple Sclerosis causes. According to Davis (2007), the Multiple Sclerosis population as a whole could theoretically require almost 9 billion days of personal care. This means that either the government will be paying for the treatment with our tax dollars or the Multiple Sclerosis patient will be stuck paying a tremendous amount of money out of pocket.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a financial planning handout on their website which is supposed to help the Multiple Sclerosis patient manage their money appropriately. A problem seen in this financial planning handout is that some of the Multiple Sclerosis patients do not have any form of income or help from the government. The question to ask would be, “How about the minorities, who can not afford the expenses that Multiple Sclerosis entails? ” There is not an answer for the question and unfortunately there are Multiple Sclerosis patients that are struggling to get treatments or medications because of the lack of resources.

Everyone wants to find the cure for Multiple Sclerosis. According to Richert (2006), a significant part of this effort must be aimed at stopping the clinical attacks that result in worsening Multiple Sclerosis symptoms as well as preventing all of the silent damage that is detected only on MRI scans. New treatments, now under development, aim at blocking the functions of the T-cell receptor and the CD28 molecule in order to dampen attacks on the nervous system (Richert, 2006). This is why researchers call the T-cell receptor and the CD28 molecule “therapeutic targets.

” Treatments are now being given in which an estriol pill is taken by the female Multiple Sclerosis patient in the hope of decreasing the symptoms and pain. One surprising fact about Multiple Sclerosis is that it goes into remission during pregnancy. The degenerative disease occurs when the immune system attacks nerve cells. It is stated that estriol hormones released during pregnancy turn down the mother’s immune system to protect the fetus from rejection (Carey, 2007). The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has developed new criteria in which the diagnosing of patients with Multiple Sclerosis is more consistent and swift.

The Society raises funds and awareness of Multiple Sclerosis problems in order to push research forward; it also serves as a catalyst for research around the world, stimulating collaboration among the best and most adventurous Multiple Sclerosis researchers anywhere (“What the Society”, 2007). The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has helped revolutionize Multiple Sclerosis treatment by funding early laboratory work and clinical studies on the disease-modifier. The Society has also funded the research to improve the assessment and treatment of fatigue, depression, and cognitive symptoms.

This year alone, $45 million dollars will be going towards several hundred research projects in the effort of finding new ways to improve the lives of the people faced with this disease. The NMSS has recognized that gender and ethnic disparities in Multiple Sclerosis must be taken into account in research and clinical settings (“What the Society”, 2007). They are also exploring the economic impact that Multiple Sclerosis has on the individuals and their family. A high proportion of people with Multiple Sclerosis are employed when they are first diagnosed.

According to Milano (2005), the Sonya Slifka Study is attempting to investigate the conditions that can jeopardize the ability of people with Multiple Sclerosis to work. The search for genes involves scanning for patterns in the human genome and processing mind-numbing numbers of potential combinations (King, 2007). But the genetics of Multiple Sclerosis is likely to provide a key to accurate prognosis and a sound rationale for selecting treatments for an individual. King (2007) also explains that genetics will also identify biological molecules active in Multiple Sclerosis that will be attractive targets for new therapies.

And finally, knowing which genes do what will help define and describe the disease itself (King, 2007). Multiple Sclerosis has had some improvement over the years but the search for a cure is still yet to be found. The search will continue and thanks to the help of many donations to research, new treatments and therapies are being discovered to improve the lives of many of the Multiple Sclerosis patients. Everyone hopes that in the next 20 years a cure will be found and Multiple Sclerosis will be a thing of the past. References Carey, J. (2007, April 16). HOW A FEMALE HORMONE IMPEDES MS.

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(2005, August). Inside MS, Retrieved October 14, 2007, from MasterFILE Premier database. Richert, J. (2006, October). Why we need many therapeutic targets. Inside MS, 24(5), 53- 55. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from MasterFILE Premier database. What the Society Has Contributed to Progress Against MS. (2007, June). Inside MS, Retrieved October 14, 2007, from MasterFILE Premier database. Williamson, D. , Henry, J. , Schiffer, R. , & Wagner, L. (2007, June). Prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis in 19 Texas Counties, 1998-2000. Journal of Environmental Health, 69(10), 41-45. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from MasterFILE Premier database.