LEAFLET ON MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS IN HOSPITALS END OF JUNE
JUNE 12, 2019 @ 5.11PM
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory neurological disease of the central nervous system. The immune system attacks myelin, which is the protective layer around nerve fibres. This causes inflammation and scar tissue, making it hard for the brain to send signals to the rest of the body. MS over a period of time leads to brain degeneration, which leads to mental impairment and physical disability.
Affecting about 2.5 million people worldwide, MS impacts 767 Malaysians, of which 59.4% are Malay, 20.5% Indian, 16.6% Chinese and 3.5% from indigenous group. MS is more common in women than in men. In fact, women are five times more likely to get MS compared to men. Most people experience the onset of symptoms between the ages of 19.1 and 38.95.
“Many MS patients are misdiagnosed as some of the signs can be vague or similar to other conditions. It is important to monitor and describe the types and patterns of symptoms in detail to your doctor or neurologist,” said Dr Shanthi Viswanathan, Consultant Neurologist of Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
“If you are diagnosed with MS; research and discuss the treatment options with your doctor. Current evidence suggests that early recognition and treatment with disease modifying treatments (DMT) is important to avoid relapses and disability progression that significantly impacts patient’s quality of life.”
Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person, and from time to time in the same person. Some of the common symptoms include numbness, tingling, abnormal sensation, weakness, mobility problems, vertigo, visual problems and pain ranging from mild to severe. MS could also impact a person’s emotions, causing emotional instability, in particular clinical depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, bipolar disorders and psychosis.
For MS patients, it is imperative for them to learn about the disease and talk to their healthcare provider if they are not tolerating the side effects well, experiencing relapses, noticing worsening symptoms and changes in physical abilities. Patients are encouraged to adhere to their treatment and if they notice worsening of their disease pattern, work with the doctor on alternative treatment options. It is important to combine medication with active lifestyle and diet to manage MS comorbidities and symptoms.
Living with MS
Nur Atiqah Samsudin, a MS patient also shared her journey of combating MS.
“It was a shock to me, when I was first diagnosed with MS. I was still young, and I have so much more to accomplish. My life was about to start, and it made me devastated at first. I also experienced several physical discomforts and emotional stress. Fortunately, I have my family and friends as my support system. With the help from my neurologist, I am currently on DMTs. This has helped me to regain a level of control, confidence and quality of life, where now I write stories to occupy my time and to make a living.”
Understanding the importance of early diagnosis, Sanofi also launched a patient leaflet which will be distributed across hospitals that treat MS.
Quek Wee Ling, Genzyme Business Unit Head, Sanofi Malaysia hopes to make the leaflet more accessible to a wider patient base and aim to educate patients as well as their caregivers on how to better manage and understand MS. She also urged members of the public to seek medical help if they score 4 out of 5 in the MS symptoms checklist available in the patient leaflet.
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