Multiple sclerosis is said to affect more women than men and is one debilitating illness. There is no known cure for this ailment, just ways to control symptoms
Imagine living a life where you suddenly realise that the numbness in your limbs has now progressed to you having little control over them. And to think you started out just fine, until the day you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That is exactly what happened with reality TV star and new father Jack Osbourne, better known as Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s son. Life for the 26-year-old father was going great guns, with him having landed a plum job and having just welcomed his baby son into the world, when he was diagnosed with the debilitating ailment. The result – he lost his job, because the channel thought he couldn’t perform following his diagnosis.
While Jack Osbourne continues to battle it out and holds onto every ray of hope coming his way to stay positive, there are several others out there who grapple with multiple sclerosis. In fact, according to surveys conducted in the past it has been discovered that the incidence of multiple sclerosis has tripled in the last decade. Nearly three in 1,00,000 people are victims of this ailment in India. Although the figure might seem small, for a nation of over 1.2 billion people, this is a significant number. However, in the Parsi community, the prevalence stands at 26 in 1,00,000. According to epidemiological studies there is a higher prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Iran, from where Parsis originally come.
What it is
Multiple sclerosis is more common in the older population than in the paediatric group. It is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord and while it progresses very gradually it does cause an individual to lose motor skills over time.
It is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. “When this covering is damaged, signals slow down or stop. This can occur anywhere in the brain area, optic nerve or spinal cord. While the exact causes are unknown, it is either due to a virus or a genetic cause,” says Dr Sreekanth, a neurologist.
“The symptoms could vary depending on the severity and area that has been affected. If muscles are affected then symptoms could be loss of balance, spasms, problem with motor skills etc. Other symptoms could include, loss of bladder control, double vision, numbness or tingling, dizziness etc,” says Dr Sreekanth.
“Often symptoms mimic other nervous system disorders so diagnosis is made by ruling out other conditions. While there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis yet, there are therapies and medications available to slow down its progression and reduce its severity,”he says.