Donate to Multiple Sclerosis Research, Patient Care and Education

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease that targets people between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are diagnosed two to three times more than men in this age group. MS attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. MS is a chronic inflammatory disorder, which most experts believe is an autoimmune condition, meaning MS affects the immune system by invading normal body tissues. It is estimated that the number of patients with MS is more than 400,000 in the United States and 2.3 million worldwide. You can make a difference for those suffering from MS by supporting Northwestern Medicine with a contribution to advance research in understanding this disabling life-long disease.

MS damages the myelin sheath which is the material that surrounds and insulates the nerve cells. The myelin sheath becomes damaged due to inflammation and eventually is destroyed. The damaged area leaves patchy scar tissue (sclerosis) which prevents nerve impulses from sending messages between the brain and body. The scarring leads to permanent damage to the myelin sheath and nerve fibers. The areas that have no myelin are referred to as lesions. Multiple sclerosis literally means, “scar tissue in multiple areas.” Are you or a loved one battling this disease? If so, make a gift to Northwestern Medicine to support scientists’ efforts to improve and change lives.

The symptoms associated with MS are linked to the lesions causing disruption of nerve impulses. The symptoms vary from person to person. The impact on one’s quality of life may be severe while for others, it may be moderate. The typical early symptoms are vision difficulties (blurred and/or double vision), tingling, numbness, balance (dizziness and/or vertigo) and walking.

A wide range of additional symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Bladder issues
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bowel problems
  • Cognitive issues
  • Speech and swallowing concerns
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold

The causes of MS are very unclear; however, research indicates the possibility of a combination of genetics and environment factors playing a role in this disease. There are several other factors that place someone at risk of MS. For example, exposure to a toxic substance, infections (viruses, such as Epstein-Barr) and lack of Vitamin D. However, at this point, these factors are only theories and have not been substantiated by research. With this in mind, you can provide financial support today to advance Northwestern Medicine MS research. A tremendous amount of research is needed in order to identify the risk factors, understand why MS occurs and find solutions.

If an individual is experiencing any MS symptoms, it is imperative to schedule an appointment with a physician and schedule several tests. It is likely a neurologist will have to perform the tests. Following are just a few of the tests that may be used to reach a diagnosis: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to see changes taking place inside the body, eye exams to verify any changes and spinal taps (lumbar puncture) to secure fluid from the spine.

MS has four main categories. The categories are:

  • Clinical Isolated Syndrome (CIS)
  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
  • Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)
  • Primary progressive MS (PPMS)

Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common form of MS.  Eighty-five (85) percent of patients with MS make up this category and 15 percent of patients with MS are in the PPMS category.

Multiple Sclerosis Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

When you make a contribution to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help physicians on staff continue to utilize the most advanced medical technology available to diagnose MS.

There is no known cure for MS; however, a range of treatment options are available. Northwestern Medicine has a team of experts that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. The team is ready to conduct assessments of this disease and make recommendations. Northwestern Medicine’s MS program is equipped to provide a thorough evaluation and tender care for patients with MS. Since MS affects each person differently, it is extremely hard to foresee the next step in the treatment plan. Northwestern Medicine needs your help to fund the needed research to advance the discovery of treatments and cures.    

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