Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Month, and Altus Biologics is proud to help raise awareness of this devastating disease.
First, we would like to commend the nearly 1 million Americans who live with this disease, who despite their diagnosis wake up every day with the determination to live their lives to the fullest. You are an inspiration to us all.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is a potentially disabling organ-specific autoimmune disease that targets the central nervous system’s myelin. The illness affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, where it attacks the protective myelin sheath that covers the nerve fibers. Myelin helps the nerves conduct electrical signals quickly and efficiently. MS destroys or damages the myelin in multiple areas leaving a scar or sclerosis that causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
Types of MS
There are four types of multiple sclerosis:
- Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS): This is a single, first episode, with symptoms lasting at least 24 hours.
- Relapse-remitting MS (RRMS): This is the most common form, affecting around 85 percent of people with MS and involving attacks of new or increasing symptoms.
- Primary progressive MS (PPMS): Symptoms worsen progressively, without early relapses or remissions. Around 15 percent of cases are PPMS.
- Secondary progressive MS (SPMS): After initial episodes of relapse and remission, the disease progresses steadily.
Symptoms of MS
Some patients may notice signs during the early stages of the disease, while others, however, will experience mild symptoms that won’t be noticeable until the illness has progressed.
Typical symptoms of MS include:
- Muscle weakness
- Visual disturbances
- Difficulties with coordination and balance
- Numbness and tingling, or electric-shock sensations
- Problems with thinking and memory
- Slurred speech
- Tingling or pain in parts of the body
- Problems with sexual, bowel and bladder functions
When the disease affects the optic nerve, patients may experience:
- Partial or complete loss of vision, usually one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
- Prolonged double vision
- Blurry vision
Treatment Options For MS
Unfortunately, researchers have not been able to determine the exact cause of the disease. This has prevented the finding of a cure.
Therefore, treatment typically focuses on suppressing the immune system to improve recovery times after an attack, slow the progression of the disease, and manage the symptoms of MS.
There are several disease-modifying drugs approved to treat the relapsing forms of MS. These include:
This is the most commonly prescribed drug for MS. It reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system. It mostly treats acute flare-up of symptoms in certain types of MS.
Interferon Beta 1a or 1b
These may slow down the progression of symptoms, but must be used with care, as they can cause liver damage.
This medication aims to stop the immune system from attacking myelin. It is injected once a day. Flush appearance and shortness of breath may occur after receiving injections.
Plasma Exchange (plasmapheresis)
The procedure consists of separating the liquid portion of the patient’s blood (plasma) from the blood cells. The blood cells are then mixed with a protein solution (albumin) and transfused back into the patient.
Plasma exchange removes the antibodies in the blood that are attacking parts of the patient’s body, and is used in cases where symptoms are new, severe, and haven’t responded to steroids.
The goal of Altus Biologics is to provide the best healthcare options for patients who require biologic treatments that are both convenient and cost effective as well as being administered in the comfort of their physician’s office.
We continually strive to add new treatment options to our list of services and are committed to helping raise awareness of autoimmune diseases. Please join us and the millions of Americans who are affected by this devastating disease as we celebrate Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.