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Medical Minute: March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

Medical Minute - MS

As we head into the last full week of March, it's time to pause and recognize the basics of a disease that impacts millions around the globe, multiple sclerosis. MS is an neurological condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord which make up the central nervous system and controls everything we do.

Jacqueline Nicholas, MD is the OhioHealth system chief for neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis.  She says patients with MS have something attacking the myelin covering their neurons. That something is their own immune system.

“MS onsets in the younger years quite often, in the 20's and 30's,” Dr. Nicholas said.  “The immune system thinks there is a foreign invader, and attacks.”

And just like no one person is the exact same, no MS is the exact same. It can impact patients completely differently. However, there are two main types of MS.

“85 percent of MS cases are what is called relapsing-remitting MS,” Dr. Nicholas said.  “That is when their first symptoms come on in the form of a relapse, meaning over hours to days.  The other main form is called primary-progressive MS, and that is when someone has a gradual worsening over time where it can hard to pinpoint when it started.”

There is hope for patients with MS. Treatments have come a long way, especially over the last few decades.

“I've been saying if you have to MS, now is the best time to have it because of so many options. Some people will take shots from daily to once a month, others will take pills daily, and others will get infusions. For many of these patients, it's all about finding what works best, and allows the patient to live their best life with MS,” Dr. Nicholas said.

If you would like to learn more about the MS programs at OhioHealth, click here.