Effects of MS
- MS is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20-50
- The average age of diagnosis is 27
- It affects three times as many women as men
- MS is more common in areas further away from the equator
- Tasmania has the highest prevalence of MS in Australia – around 6 times higher than Queensland
There is no one definitive test to diagnose MS. You may have waited for some time to receive a diagnosis, as there are several criteria upon which a diagnosis of MS is made. There must be evidence of at least two attacks (episodes of demyelination) that are separate in time and location in the central nervous system.Symptoms are observed over a period of time - a comprehensive neurological examination that assesses visual fields, movements and sensation is undertaken, and ruling out other explanations for the symptoms needs to occur.
Other tests performed to make a diagnosis of MS include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which creates detailed pictures of the brain and spinal cord, revealing areas of inflammation and scarring. A lumbar puncture allows the collection of cerebrospinal fluid which may show specific changes in proteins and white blood cells that are characteristic of MS.
Symptoms vary enormously from person to person – MS is a very individual disease.
Optic neuritis is often the first symptom experienced by people with MS, but not always. Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve, which causes an acute blurring or loss of vision – mostly in one eye. Vision usually improves over a period of weeks.
However, not everybody who develops optic neuritis will go on to develop MS.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms, affecting around 80% of people with MS.
MS is a very individual disease as different people will have a different combination of symptoms, and it is difficult to predict the course that the disease may take. However, there are several distinct patterns of MS that have been described.
In this type of MS, relapses (also known as exacerbations or attacks) occur that can last for days or weeks, in which new symptoms appear and current symptoms may worsen. Symptoms will either partially or completely improve after attack.
For some individuals with relapsing-remitting MS, the disease course will eventually move to a secondary progressive phase where symptoms will become more progressive rather than clearly defined attacks with peiods of recovery/remission.
This type of MS is defined by a steady progression of symptoms rather than distinct attacks. Symptoms gradually get worse over time rather than the person experiencing sudden relapses.
This form of MS involves steady progression of symptoms from the onset of the disease, accompanied by periods of attacks that may or may not involve periods of recovery or remission.
The iconic Wrest Point tower will be bathed in red this month in support of MS Australia’s ‘ Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign which aims to raise awareness and funds to help find a...