March is National MS Education and Awareness Month (NMEAM), an initiative of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF) to raise awareness for this chronic neurological disease affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
This year’s theme is “At Your Best with MS,” encouraging the more than 2.5 million people with MS worldwide to seek the best quality of life possible. This means different things to different people as MS varies widely in severity, with approximately 15% of those diagnosed becoming severely disabled. It could include adhering to a treatment regimen, eating healthy, keeping fit, developing a support network and/or maintaining good emotional health.
It could also refer to nurturing hobbies and interests. That’s why the MSF has launched the “Show Us Your Best” contest, which calls for creative submissions (such as poems, essays, photo collages, videos, songs and more) demonstrating how people are raising awareness of MS. The deadline for entry is March 31st, and the grand prize winner will win a cruise for two on MSF’s 2013 “Cruise for a Cause” to Alaska.
With 26,000+ members, the MS community at PatientsLikeMe is one of our largest. Approximately 80% of the MS community is female (reflecting the fact that MS is at least 2-3 times more common in women than men), and slightly more than half have the relapsing-remitting form of the disease (RRMS). We also have 1,400+ patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS), 2,200+ with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and 580+ with progressive relapsing MS (PRMS).
Some of the most commonly reported MS symptoms in our community include bladder problems, brain fog, excessive daytime sleepiness and stiffness/spasticity. What are our members taking for these issues – as well as for MS itself? From disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) like Copaxone, Avonex and Tysabri to steroids like Prednisone to symptom-specific medications like Baclofen and , our members have submitted hundreds of evaluations for nearly all available treatment options. (Click on each drug name above to find out how they rate the effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)
Our members are not only sharing their experiences with treatments and symptoms on their PatientsLikeMe profiles – they’re also chatting about them. A lot. To date, the MS forum room has over 786,000 posts! Some of the most frequently used forum tags are CCSVI (“The Liberation Procedure”), Low Dose Naltexone (LDN), SSDI (Disability Insurance), Fatigue, “LimboLand” and Research. (Click on each category to see what patients are saying about the topic.)
Piqued by all the knowledge found in our MS community? This is just the the tip of the iceberg – and the kickoff of our MS coverage this month. Stay tuned for more about what our MS members are sharing and learning during MS Awareness Week (March 10-17th), organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).