Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects people in many different ways. People with MS need lifelong care. Physicians at Penn State Health use the latest treatments to give each patient the best care possible. We partner with Penn State Health researchers to give our patients access to all proven treatments for this condition.
- Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
- Groups, Classes & Support
- Research & Clinical Trials
- Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook
Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease. In these conditions, the body’s immune system attacks myelin, the sheath that protects nerve fibers.
The cause of MS is not known. It is not an inherited disease. However, it appears that genetic factors make some people more likely to get MS. It affects many more women than men.
Most people first notice symptoms between the ages of 20 and 50, but the course of MS varies from person to person. The disease may be mild, moderate or severe. Most people have the relapsing-remitting form of MS. In this type flare-ups (also called relapses or exacerbations) of symptoms are followed by periods of remission.
Our physicians have been helping people manage MS for more than 40 years. We strive to provide an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan to help patients properly manage this condition.
Research & Clinical Trials
Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook
Symptoms of MS vary from person to person. They may include:
- Weakness in motor skills and loss of muscle coordination
- Tingling, numbness, dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Heat sensitivity
- Loss of bladder control
- Memory loss, problem solving difficulties
- Mood disturbances
- Spasticity or tremor
- Sexual dysfunction
Outlook for people with multiple sclerosis
About 70 percent of people with MS have a type called relapsing-remitting, in which symptoms get worse during periodic flare-ups. Between flare-ups symptoms get better or disappear. In about half of these cases, MS becomes progressively worse after about 10 years.
Far fewer people, between 10 and 15 percent, have a type of MS called chronic progressive. This type becomes steadily worse with no remissions.
People with MS are at higher risk than the general population for:
- Developing bone loss from inactivity
- Steroid use
- Vitamin D deficiency
About 15 to 20 percent of people with MS have relatively mild symptoms. Most people with this condition live for 30 or more years after their diagnosis. Many continue to work and be active, although bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction are common.