BUSTED! 6 Myths About MS You Probably Still Believe In 2019
Updated: Dec 27, 2019
There are several common misconceptions about MS that many people chose to believe from preconceived ideas about terminal illnesses and societal notions about the given topic. For some, the name itself suggests negative results like wheelchairs and permanent disabilities. Truth is, most people diagnosed with MS are able to manage their disease and live normal lives. Below are the top 6 common myths about Multiple Sclerosis followed by facts! I hope these give you a better understanding about MS!
Everyone experiences MS the same way.
Multiple Sclerosis affects everyone differently. While there are a handful of symptoms that are common to the disease, itself, the course of the disease is unpredictable - no two people experience the same symptoms and the same severity. For example, I have met a number of people diagnosed with MS. While I explained that I experience symptoms A, B and C, they have shared that they only know of symptom B, but that they also experience symptoms D, E and F. It all depends on the person, y'know?
People with MS should maintain a sedentary lifestyle to avoid worsening the condition.
This is such a once-upon-a-time myth! In the beginning of MS studies, there were many medical experts who suggested that the condition of MS could worsen with physical activity and therefore was instructed against. However, with more time and advanced research, doctors have come to the fortunate conclusion that maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is one of the greatest ways to combat MS and delay the progression of disability. It is now recommended by physicians to be active within your physical abilities at least 4 days a week!
Only older people get diagnosed with MS.
Actually, the majority of diagnoses happen between the ages of 20 and 50. (I was diagnosed at 23!) In fact, although not as common, there have been cases where MS appeared in children as young as 13 and adults over the middle age. Early symptoms may not pose an immediate threat the way it can in due time. Therefore, it is important to start a treatment that works best for you regardless of how severe the symptoms seem to be in the beginning stages. The earlier you start the treatment, the better!
MS is a death sentence.
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually uncommon to die from Multiple Sclerosis. The majority of peeps diagnosed go on to live damn-near normal lives and life-spans. Not to say that death by MS doesn't happen, those are just more advanced complications that are associated with aggressive progressive stages of the illness. When a person is treating the disease early on, it helps to slow down the progression of the disease to minimize future complications. Therefore, in cases where the condition of MS is severe, a shorter life-span can result.
Cognitive issues are uncommon and only appear in progressive forms of MS.
I wish I could say this were true, BUT, cognitive decline is a whole thing and common in more than 50% of those diagnosed to a degree. According to a consensus among medical experts, a patient who experiences little to no symptoms can have significant cognitive issues, while someone else with a more progressive compromise can be cognitively healthy. (Janene Spring, RN, BScN, MSCN, Nicole Beauregard, MSc, Galina Vorobeychik, MD, FRCPSC 2006) For most, memory loss is the most commonly reported symptom accompanied by judgement and abstract reasoning, word finding and information processing.
MS is hereditary.
The truth of the matter is, MS is not genetic and not 100% hereditary, meaning if someone in your family has the disease, this does NOT mean you will necessarily develop the condition. However, there is a genetic theory that exists. If there is an immediate family member, like a parent or a sibling, the risk of developing the disease significantly increases. My grandmother's sister is affected by MS, but my grandmother was not. My mother developed the disease in her 20s and then I developed the disease around the same age. It is said that while genes are not an immediate factor to who develops the disease and who doesn't, environmental factors, such as smoking, a virus infection and vitamin D deficiency, are questioned to play a part in its development as well.
MS is a complicated disease that is associated with polarized misconceptions and emotions, making it difficult to figure out the facts. By staying informed by your neurologist, you are receiving the facts and best medical advice there is to have about managing your MS.