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    Multiple Sclerosis does not Discriminate

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | September 9th, 2018

    Multiple Sclerosis does not Discriminate

    I was talking with a friend and informing her that I was honored to be invited by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America to speak on Family Planning, Sexual Dysfunction and Menopause.  My friend commented, “multiple sclerosis, isn’t that a disease that mostly occurs in white people?” I told her that multiple sclerosis does not discriminate.

    On preparing for my talk scheduled on September 20th, I chanced upon an article found in the Neurology® Clinical Practice titled Multiple Sclerosis in US minority populations. In the article it states that in the past multiple sclerosis was thought to be diagnosed more in Caucasian Americans but they have found that it occurs more in African-Americans. It usually takes about 2 years to make the diagnosis from when symptoms start. African-Americans tend to be older and when found the disease course is more aggressive leading to an increase in disability.

    What is multiple sclerosis? Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.  The immune system attacks the nerves that come from the central nervous system causing inflammation and damage. The nerves send messages to all parts of the body. When the damage occurs it can affect all parts of the body controlled by the central nervous system. Symptoms include blurred vision in one eye, numbness and tingling, leg cramping, muscle spasms, difficulty walking, fatigue to name a few. MS occurs mostly in women and is often diagnosed between the ages of 20 – 40 years old.

    The cause is unknown and can affect people of all ethnic groups. It is a chronic disease and will require a long term commitment to drug therapy.  

    Once the diagnosis is made, you will need to have a team of health care providers. Your team should include at minimum a neurologist, a physical therapist, a mental health specialist, an ophthalmologist, a urologist, along with your obstetrician/gynecologist and primary care physician.  If your community has an MS clinic, it would be a great idea to attend this clinic because of the resources that will be available. It is important to be fully educated in your disease. Those who are educated and well informed do better.

    The drugs that are used are called disease modifying therapy (DMT) and what is known is that not all drugs work the same in each individual and there may be differences based on race. There are several clinical trials available and you may consider participating in these trials. It is best to talk with your neurologist.

    For more information on multiple sclerosis, you can visit Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) or National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Regarding the program sponsored by MSAA, it will be held on September 20, 2018 at 6:00 PM at Bridgewater Banquet & Conference Center at 10561 Sawmill Parkway, Powell, OH 43065. It is a women only program and it is free.  Dinner will be served.  You will need to register by September 18. To register for this program and to find out about other programs from the MSAA in other cities, please click here. You can also call 1-800-532-7667 ext, 186.


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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

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