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Basic Multiple Sclerosis Information

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease. Learn more about basic information, including types, causes, risk factors, prevalence, prognosis and relapses or exacerbations.

How Do Relapses Impact Disability?
Although it is difficult to predict how multiple sclerosis will progress in any individual patient, research is showing that people who have more relapses in their first two years after diagnosis tend to develop secondary progressive multiple sclerosis earlier than those without early relapses.

Am I More Likely to Develop Alzheimer’s if I Have MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's disease are both neurological disorders. People with MS often wonder if they are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than the general population. Learn the answer here.

What Is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and MS?
While multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's disease are both neurological disorders, they have different mechanisms of action, different causes and different symptoms and levels of severity.

Am I exposed to any radiation during an MRI scan?
Most people with multiple sclerosis (MS) get MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans at least annually, if not more often. Fortunately, there is no radiation exposure during an MRI scan, unlike other test, such as CT scans or X-rays.

Smoking Increases Risk for Developing Multiple Sclerosis
People who ever smoked have a higher risk for developing multiple sclerosis (MS). This risk is increased more in people who started smoking at a young age or who are heavy smokers.

Smoking Makes Multiple Sclerosis Worse
Smoking has been shown to increase risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), but until recently, the impact of smoking on MS disability and progression was unknown. Research now shows that smoking speeds progression from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis to secondary-progressive MS.

What Do We (People With Multiple Sclerosis) Want To Be Called?
As people with multiple sclerosis (MS) we are often referred to as MS "sufferers" or "victims." What should we call people with MS?

Racial Differences in Multiple Sclerosis
White Americans are more likely to get multiple sclerosis (MS), but African Americans experience more severe symptoms from MS. This is despite the fact that black Americans are diagnosed sooner after experiencing symptoms and start treatment with disease-modifying therapy sooner after diagnosis.

MS Diagnosis "Red Flags"
A multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis can be tricky, as symptoms are common with other diseases and are often vague. However, there are certain characteristics of patients or their symptoms that should make doctors investigate causes other than MS.

Evoked Potentials for Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis
Evoked potential tests measure how long it takes for stimulation of different nerves to reach the brain and how big the response is.

Who Develops Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?
Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) is diagnosed in about half of people who originally had relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), although disease-modifying drugs may change these statistics. Learn about some signs that RRMS may become SPMS.

Headache as a Side Effect of Lumbar Punctures
Headaches are the most common side effect of lumbar punctures, also called spinal taps. While painful and frightening, these headaches can be treated quickly and successfully.

What Are the Usual Symptoms of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?
Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) is usually characterized by gradually worsening of the ability to walk. However, for a small minority of people, the main symptoms are tremor and problems with balance.

How is Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) is particularly challenging, as people with PPMS do not have definite relapses characteristic of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, but rather experience a gradual worsening of symptoms. In addition, MRI scans of the brain often appear normal.

How Do I Know if I'm Having an MS Relapse?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses sometimes come on strongly, with sudden loss of function. Many times, however, the symptoms are not as clear right away, leaving us to wonder if it is really a relapse or not. Learn how to tell if you are having a relapse or if you are having a pseudoexacerbation.

I have RRMS and just started treatment. How often should I be getting an MRI?
A 2007 study suggests that repeating an MRI one year after starting treatment with interferon-based disease-modifying therapies will tell physicians how a person with multiple sclerosis (MS) is responding to that therapy and how well it will help them in the future.

Is there a test that can determine if you have MS after one relapse?
Diagnosing MS used to require a minimum of two relapses to meet diagnostic criteria. MRI scans have improved the process of monitoring and diagnosing MS dramatically and have led to the development of the McDonald Criteria, which incorporates the use of MRIs into the diagnosing process.

Is Multiple Sclerosis Genetic?
Is multiple sclerosis (MS) genetic? A study published in August 2007 reported a new genetic risk factor for MS. The study shows that people who have certain variations or mutations of two different genes (IL7RA and IL2RA) are more likely to have MS than people without these mutations. The data did not show a direct causal link, rather an increased susceptibility to MS.

Gadolinium Warning for People with Kidney Disease
Gadolinium, the contrast agent used in MRI scans to indicate active lesions in MS patients, has been implicated in causing a deadly condition in people with kidney dysfunction, called NSF.

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is extremely difficult. Many people live years with MS before receiving a definite diagnosis. Understand what constitutes a definite diagnosis of MS, the different tests and what your neurologist is looking for in trying to arrive at a diagnosis.

The Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and Multiple Sclerosis
The Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) is a rating system that is frequently used for classifying and standardizing the condition of people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Multiple Sclerosis Types
Multiple sclerosis has four distinct types based on how symptoms change over time. These types are: relapsing-remitting MS, primary-progressive MS, secondary-progressive MS, and progressive-relapsing MS

Multiple Sclerosis Relapses 101
Multiple sclerosis relapses/exacerbations can be frustrating and cause anxiety. MS patients need to understand how symptoms appear and disappear. Knowing what to expect and how to react to relapses/exacerbations is an important part of MS management.

Understanding MS
Multiple sclerosis is a complex disease with many symptoms, degrees of severity and courses of progression. Learn the basics about MS, including: multiple sclerosis symptoms, risk factors, treatment, types, relapses, diagnosis and things to avoid if you have MS.

The Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
The causes of MS are largely unknown, though researchers believe that a combination of environmental factors, immune system activity, infection and genetics are at work in causing multiple sclerosis.

Who Gets MS?
Because the exact causes of MS are unknown, researchers only partially understand MS risk factors. They have found that some things, like having a sibling with MS, increases risk slightly. However, much about MS risk remains unexplained.

Multiple Sclerosis and ALS
Although multiple sclerosis (MS) and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) are both chronic neurological diseases, they have different causes and different courses.

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