Know thy enemy. Get the facts on relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS)
Odds are, if you're visiting this website and are considering GILENYA® treatment, then you probably already know a thing or two about relapsing multiple sclerosis. But for those of you who may be recently diagnosed (or those just looking for a refresher), this page will give you the basics.
What is relapsing multiple sclerosis?
However, the cause of this attack is unknown. In MS, some white blood cells, called lymphocytes, gain access to the brain. Along with macrophages (another type of white blood cell) and other immune cells, they are believed to mistakenly cause damage to nerve fibers. When the covering of these nerve fibers (called myelin) is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body can get interrupted. This is thought to be the underlying cause of many relapsing MS symptoms.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), relapsing-remitting MS—the most common disease course—is characterized by clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function. These attacks (also called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations) are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions), during which symptoms improve partially or completely and there is no apparent progression of disease.
Symptoms of relapsing multiple sclerosis
Everyone experiences relapsing multiple sclerosis symptoms differently and in different combinations. One person may experience numbness or vision problems, while another may feel pain or have difficulty walking.
MS symptoms can also change over time, so what a person experiences in the early stages of the disease may differ from late-stage symptoms. Some symptoms can sometimes disappear, while others may become permanent.
Here's a list of some of the more common symptoms of relapsing MS. Because the condition is so variable, it's not a complete list. So be sure to speak up and tell your doctor if you notice anything different or unusual.
- Feeling dizzy or losing your balance
- Problems with vision
- Numbness, tingling, or pain
- Muscle weakness or tremors
- Trouble walking
- Bladder issues
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Finding it hard to concentrate or remember things
Who gets multiple sclerosis?
It's hard to believe, but in this day and age, we still don't know the exact cause of multiple sclerosis. However, decades of clinical research have given us a lot of really good leads. Scientists now believe that several underlying risk factors may be associated with MS, including gender, genetics, ethnicity, exposure to certain viruses, and the environment. Here's what we know:
- Gender: MS is at least 2 to 3 times more common in women than in men
- Genetics: If you have a family member (eg, a parent, sibling, or child) who has MS, your risk for developing the disease increases. Generally speaking, the risk for most people of developing MS is 1 out of 750. However, if you have a family member with MS, your risk increases to 1 out of 40. The risk may increase more if you have multiple family members with MS, or if you have an identical twin with MS
- Ethnicity: MS occurs in most ethnic groups, including Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics/Latinos. While it is most commonly seen in Caucasians of northern European ancestry, new research shows that African-American women may be especially at risk. Findings such as these suggest that ethnicity may be one of several contributing factors
- Viruses: Some scientists think that certain viruses may make people more susceptible to MS
- Environment: MS is less common in areas closer to the equator. These areas receive more sunlight, and because sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D, researchers have looked into the role that vitamin D plays in MS
What can you do to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis?
Plenty! While there is no cure for relapsing MS, we certainly are able to treat it. Spend some time with us on gilenya.com and learn about GILENYA—a once-a-day* pill that's proven to treat relapsing MS in ways that matter. You can also hear from real people with relapsing MS who refuse to let their condition push them around.