While 2.3 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis, there’s a lot most people don’t understand about the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is an often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within a person’s brain, along with the signals sent from the brain to the body, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS patients can experience symptoms such as fatigue, numbness or tingling, weakness, difficulty walking, pain and vision problems.
There are several myths that persist about the disease, and Dr. Mehmet Oz wants to correct them.
Myth #1: You shouldn’t get pregnant if you have MS
While people with MS may need to adjust their treatment plan if they get pregnant, “there’s no evidence that pregnancy accelerates the course of MS,” Dr. Oz says. If you have MS and are planning to become pregnant, he recommends talking to your doctor to make sure the medication you’re using won’t impact your growing fetus. “Otherwise, make family, enjoy life,” Dr. Oz says.
Myth #2: You shouldn’t exercise if you have MS
It’s actually the opposite, Dr. Oz says, noting that people who are physically active do better with MS. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, exercise — such as yoga, swimming, or Pilates — helps people with MS better manage their symptoms, including fatigue. “One of the most important things to focus on is to ensure that you’re always able to walk,” Dr. Oz says. “So, keep the rest of your body healthy so it can help you deal with your MS better.”
Myth #3: If no one in your family has MS, you won’t have it
Not true. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is not an inherited disease that is passed down from generation to generation. “There is a genetic component in about 20 percent of cases, but most people with MS don’t have family members who have the ailment,” Dr. Oz says. MS can also be sparked by environmental factors that “we don’t really understand,” he says, adding, “you’re not immune just because you don’t have family members that have been afflicted.”
Myth #4: MS is a death sentence
Dr. Oz calls this “absolutely wrong,” noting that “people do very well with MS for many, many years.” In fact, he adds, 50 percent of people with MS are still walking 15 years after their diagnosis. “I’ve been very blessed to meet many people with MS and I hear the same story: There’s lots of room for hope,” Dr. Oz says. “We’re understanding more about what causes it, and we’re understanding better treatment therapies. We know what you can do to help yourself do better. The future looks very bright for MS.”
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