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As we mark International Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Month, Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, raises awareness and understanding about this debilitating and complex disease.

What is MS?

MS is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It is estimated that over 6,000 people in South Africa are living with MS, and around 2.5 million worldwide.

MS occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective coating (myelin) that surrounds nerve fibres in the CNS. This can cause a range of symptoms, depending on which nerves are affected.

The cause of MS is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Signs And Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of MS can vary greatly from person to person, depending on which part of the CNS is affected.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue: MS-related fatigue is often described as an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that does not improve with rest. It can be debilitating and affect daily life.
  • Muscle weakness or spasticity: MS can cause muscle weakness, stiffness, or spasms, which can affect movement and coordination.
  • Vision problems, such as blurred or double vision: MS can damage the nerves that control eye movement, leading to vision problems.
  • Sensory symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in the limbs: MS can affect the way nerves transmit signals, leading to altered sensations such as numbness, tingling, or burning.
  • Difficulty with coordination and balance: MS can affect the cerebellum, which is responsible for coordination and balance, leading to problems with walking or standing.
  • Problems with speech or swallowing: MS can affect the nerves that control speech and swallowing, leading to slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as memory problems or difficulty with concentration and attention: MS can affect the parts of the brain responsible for cognition, leading to problems with memory, attention, and information processing.

Treatment Options

While there is currently no cure for MS, there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

These include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

According to Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health, “Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing MS. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms associated with MS, as early intervention can help prevent long-term disability and improve quality of life.”

MS can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, and it is important to provide support and care for those living with the disease. This includes access to healthcare, rehabilitation services, and community support.

“By increasing awareness, we can help reduce the stigma associated with MS and improve support for those living with the disease,” concludes Hewlett.

About Affinity Health 

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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