According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, women are up to three times more likely than men to get MS. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the body’s central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and the spinal cord. MS confuses the body’s immune system, causing it to attack the CNS, and create damaging lesions on the brain and spinal cord that prevent the nerve cells from communicating with the body as they should. This can lead to long-lasting damage that can affect vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions.
It is especially important for women between the ages of 20 and 50 – the most common period of time a woman is diagnosed – to be able to identify the warning signs.
MS Symptoms in Women
- Numbness and tingling. Numbness can present itself in the legs, arms, face, or torso; some people say it feels like pins and needles or like a burning sensation. Sometimes patients only feel numbness in one limb or on one side of the face, while others feel in it both. Eventually, this numbness can cause issues with walking and keeping balance.
- Muscle stiffness and muscle spasms. People with MS experience stiffness and involuntary spasms in their extremities, especially the legs.
- Blurred vision, loss of vision and double vision. The disease can either cause inflammation in the optic nerve or cause nerve damage in the pathways that control eye movement.
- Vertigo and loss of balance. One study found that about 20% of people with MS experience vertigo episodes. Dizziness and vertigo-induced spinning sensations often contribute to balance issues in people with MS.
- Bladder and bowel problems.
- Worsening memory and difficulty concentrating.
How to Reduce the Risk of MS
- Quit smoking cigarettes. Smoking is terrible for your health in many ways. If you’ve smoked before 17, while your brain was still developing, you have an increased risk in getting the disease.
- Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D. In addition to taking supplements, you can also increase your vitamin intake by eating foods rich in vitamin D, like fatty fish, fortified cereals, mushrooms, eggs, and some milk.
- Don’t skip your workout.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Getting at least seven hours of restful sleep a night is good for your brain.
- Exercise your brain muscle. Do things that stimulate your brain, whether it’s reading often, playing word and number games, or learning a new hobby that has a few complicated steps, like knitting.
Ref. womansday.com, MSN/lifestyle.com
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