Myth: Multiple Sclerosis is a death sentence
Fact: No, it’s not, but it is a Life sentence. Life expectancy is close to normal for most people with MS. It is a Life sentence because, as yet, a definite cure has not been found.
There are many disease modifying therapies (DMTs) that are claimed to slow the disease progression and reduce symptoms but each has its own side effects. Opinions differ but, maybe, the nearest we have to a cure is the, as yet unapproved, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT).
Fact: Unlikely, actually most people with MS will never need a wheelchair or other walking aid to move around. However, about 25% will – although some, like me, will only use a wheelchair to travel longer distances.
Myth: Everyone’s MS is the same
Fact: This is simply not true. Just because someone you know who has MS can do certain things but not others, and has certain symptoms, is NO indication that you or anyone lose will progress in the same way.
No two people with MS have the same symptoms; that’s why it is known as the Snowflake disease.. Some people have mild numbness in the limbs once in their lifetime, while others may develop severe paralysis or loss of vision. The course of MS is often unpredictable.
Myth: Young people cannot get MS
Fact: MS is not an elderly person’s disease. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. However, children, teenagers, and even seniors can develop MS. Age is irrelevant.
Myth: The number of MS cases is increasing
Facts: Well, this not a total myth as more peole are being diagnosed now than previously BUT that may be because doctors are now better equipped, with MRI scans for example, to help them make that diagnosis.
What we do know is that the gap between women and men with MS is growing. It used to be two women being diagnosed for every one man but now it is nearer four to one.
Myth: Women with MS cannot become pregnant
Fact: Oh yes they can. Indeed, it may actually be a good thing as many will go into remission during their third trimester. There is even a growing body of evidence that pregnancy can lower a women’s risk for life.
Myth: Mothers with MS cannot breastfeed their babies
Fact: This probably stems from the fact that some of the medications used to treat MS can’t be taken while breastfeeding. However, with medical advice, it may be possible to stop those medications temporarily to allow a period of breastfeeding.
Myth: It’s all in your genes
Fact: Genes do play a role, and some forms of the disease havle been proved to be hereditary, however, genes are only part of the story. Viral infections and environmental factors are also in the mix.
Myth: People with MS shouldn’t exercise
Fact: More than 20 years ago this would have been the advice but in 1996 researchers at the University of Utah showed that aerobic exercise improved many of the symptoms of MS including bladder and bowel function, fatigue, and depression.
On the negative side, exercise can cause someone with MS to become overheated, which can trigger symptoms, but staying hydrated and not overdoing the activities can mitigate that.