Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that impacts the central nervous system.
In an emotional Instagram post Oct. 20, Selma Blair revealed that she is among a number of celebrities living with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that impacts the central nervous system. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis in women can include fatigue, walking difficulties, emotional changes including depression, pain or weakness, among other symptoms, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). But while the disease impacts people of all genders similarly, MS is two to three times more common in women, NMSS noted on its website, adding that “recent studies have suggested that the female-to-male ratio may be as high as three or four to one.”
“[Multiple sclerosis] is remarkably heterogeneous,” Kathy Costello, associate vice president of healthcare access at NMSS, tells Bustle. Most people living with MS are initially diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting MS, which describes a temporary flare up of symptoms that then remit, Costello tells Bustle. This form of the disease affects around 85 percent of patients, with around two to three female patients for every male patient. There is also Primary-Progressive MS, a steady progression of symptoms that don’t wane, which affects 10 percent of those with living with MS (with an equal ratio of male to female patients), and 5 percent are diagnosed with the most debilitating form of the disease, Progressive-Relapsing MS.
Because there isn’t a specific test for MS, it can be difficult to diagnose, which can delay treatment. What’s more, because there isn’t currently an accurate way capture the number of people living with MS, it’s not known how many people actually have it. “MS is not a ‘reportable’ disease, which means that the government does not require physicians to inform any central database when they make the diagnosis. Without this kind of centralized reporting system, there is no easy way to count people with MS,” the National MS Society explained.
|Read on: Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis In Women Can Be Debilitating & Here’s What You Should Know|