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Sunday, March 8, 2015

MS Gets On My Nerves:

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MS and Pets:

Pets With Benefits: Your Constant Companion and Multiple Sclerosis
By: Dennis Thompson Jr.
Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH

When you're wrestling with life after an MS diagnosis, dogs can provide you with far more than companionship, as one woman learned.

Alex O'Connor finds her pooch not only comforting and supportive, but also helpful for managing MS symptoms.

Pets can be very helpful for someone with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, vice president of clinical care for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "Pets provide an incredible amount of companionship and emotional support. They give people a reason to get up every morning and be active," Dr. Kalb says.

Benefits Beyond Companionship
O'Connor's two dogs are Polly, an 11-year-old Dalmatian, and Grady, a two-and-a-half-year-old foxhound, and she also owns a couple of cats -- all critters that serve a variety of roles in her life.

"Polly lives in the moment, so she teaches me it's important to live in the moment and be happy in the moment," O'Connor says. "My pets also give me something to look forward to. I get up in the morning, and I look forward to seeing them."

O'Connor has trained Polly and Grady to work as service animals for her. "Polly is my eyesight," she says. "I have double vision, and she helps keep me from running into things. Grady is trained to pull me out of chairs and get my cell phone and do things like that."

She finds that having a dog with her also helps her interactions with humans, too. "I take her to the hospital with me all the time," says O'Connor, who's also battling stage 4 ovarian Cancer and is on chemo. "It's interesting because the doctors are much more compassionate to me when I have the dog, and other patients enjoy seeing the dog."

Pet a Puppy (or a Kitten) and Feel Better Fast
Her dogs also are great motivators for her to get up and move. "It's also good for me because they need exercise, and so they get me up and out even when I might not want to go," O'Connor says. "I drag my foot, and I have a little bit of trouble walking, so both of them help me with that.

Pets Help Boost Mental Health
O'Connor's experiences with her pets are common among patients with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, especially those struggling with feelings of sadness, loneliness, loss, or depression, Kalb says.

"MS is tied to loss -- loss of function, loss of self-esteem," Kalb says. "There's a grieving process that accompanies those changes, and when we are undergoing grieving of loss, having the companionship of a pet that gives unconditional love can be invaluable. It's a consistent presence in the face of a disease that is pretty unpredictable."

Interactions with pets are known to reduce loneliness, anxiety, and depression in all people, not just those with MS. Pets can also boost your morale and spark a renewed interest in having social interactions with others.

"I think pets are great for people with MS," O'Connor says. "I know people who are homebound or in wheelchairs -- the dogs and cats mean so much to them, too. The quality of life is so much better for them. I've known patients who were despondent until they got a pet, and it helped with their depression."

Key Takeaways
• Pets motivate people with MS to get up every morning and be active.

• Pets can boost morale and spark renewed interest in having social interactions with others.

• Pets can be trained as service animals to help make life with MS more manageable.

Alex O'Connor sometimes can't sleep from the pain caused by her Multiple Sclerosis. O'Connor hates to wake her husband, but she knows she's not alone if pain disturbs her slumber.

"When I'm in pain in the middle of the night, and my spouse is asleep, my dogs are up with me," says O'Connor, 50, of Durham, N.C. "They're a great comfort to me."

"Pets provide an incredible amount of companionship and emotional support" for people with MS.

Is Multiple Sclerosis A Mitochondrial Disease?

The factors that may contribute to the development and progression of Multiple Sclerosis. The precise causal factors of Multiple Sclerosis are unknown. However, it is possible that multiple factors are involved in causing Multiple Sclerosis, including DNA defects in nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, viral infection, hypoxia and oxidative stress, lack of sunlight or sufficient levels of vitamin D, and increased macrophages and lymphocytes in the brain.

Mitochondrial abnormalities in people with Multiple Sclerosis and EAE mouse models. Based on current research, we propose that mitochondrial abnormalities are involved in the development and progression of Multiple Sclerosis, including mitochondrial DNA defects, abnormal mitochondrial gene expression, defective mitochondrial enzyme activities, abnormal or deficient mitochondrial DNA repair mechanisms, and mitochondrial dysfunction. We propose that abnormal mitochondrial dynamics (imbalance in mitochondrial fission and fusion) plays a key role in tissues affected by Multiple Sclerosis. We also propose that mitochondrial abnormalities and mitochondrial energy failure may impact other cellular pathways including increased demyelination and inflammation in neurons and tissues that are affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

To read this info. in its entirety please visit the following link:

1. Introduction
2. Etiology and pathology of MS
3. Experimental autoimmune encephalitis model of MS
4. Multiple Sclerosis/experimental autoimmune encephalitis is a neurodegenerative disorder
5. Mitochondria dysfunction and ROS as causes of neuronal degeneration in MS
6. Development of therapeutic approaches in MS
7. Conclusions and future directions

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Autoimmune Disorders ~ Mercury In Seafood:

A new study entitled “Mercury Exposure and Antinuclear Antibodies among Females of Reproductive Age in the United States” suggests mercury exposure by seafood may increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases in women. The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system attacks and damages its own healthy tissues. Females are at a significantly higher risk to suffer from autoimmune disorders when compared to men, as nine females are affected for every one male. Autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis are one of the 10 leading causes of death in women.

Autoimmunity is characterized by the lack of tolerance towards the body’s self-antigens. However, it can exist without clinical symptoms as well, accounting for a pre-clinical immune dysregulation. One of the factors associated with immune dysregulation is exposure to mercury, with mice studies supporting immunotoxic effects caused by mercury exposure (organic and inorganic forms).

A research team from the University of Michigan determined the association between mercury exposure and the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA), i.e., antibodies that are produced by the immune system when immune dysregulation occurs. Mercury biomarkers included hair mercury, (indicates predominantly organic [methyl] mercury); total blood mercury (biomarker for both organic and inorganic mercury); and urinary mercury, a marker for inorganic/elemental mercury.

Researchers analyzed a total of 1,352 women aged between 16 to 49 years old from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey performed from 1999 to 2004. They found that a greater exposure to mercury was associated with higher levels of autoantibodies in females during reproductive ages, with organic (methyl) mercury accounting for the most predominant factor. Importantly, seafood is one of the richest sources for this type of mercury.

The authors highlight that while fish consumption is recommended for pregnant women, they should pay particular attention to the type of fish they consume, as noted by Emily Somers, Ph.D., Sc.M, study leading author, in a press release“In our study, exposure to mercury stood out as the main risk factor for autoimmunity. The presence of autoantibodies doesn’t necessarily mean they will lead to an autoimmune disease. However, we know that autoantibodies are significant predictors of future autoimmune disease, and may predate the symptoms and diagnosis of an autoimmune disease by years. For women of childbearing age, who are at particular risk of developing this type of disease, it may be especially important to keep track of seafood consumption.”

Ladies, given that you are at risk of developing MS 3:1 over men,
visit the following website for additional info. about a MS Diet 

COFFEE.......An MS Preventive!?!?

People who drink four to six cups of coffee daily may be less likely to get Multiple Sclerosis, according to international research out Thursday.
"Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases," said lead author Ellen Mowry of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain," she added.
The findings of a US and Swedish study -- released ahead of the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Washington -- each compared more than 1,000 people with MS to a similar number of healthy people.
Researchers tracked how much coffee the subjects drank in the one, five and 10 years before symptoms began for those afflicted with MS.
People who drink 4-6 cups of coffee daily 
may be less likely to get Multiple Sclerosis
After accounting for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index and sun exposure, the Swedish study found that "compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about 1.5 times the increased risk of developing MS."
Similar protective effects were seen among those who drank lots of coffee five to 10 years before symptoms appeared.
The US study found that "people who didn't drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop."
More research is needed to determine if caffeine in coffee has any impact on relapse or long-term disability due to MS, an incurable disease of the Central Nervous System that affects well over 2.3 Million people worldwide.
The study was funded by the Swedish Medical Research Council, the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Challenges of Invisible Disabilities:

‘But You Look So Good!’ - Challenges of Invisible Disabilities

I am permanently disabled, and until there is a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or Narcolepsy, disabled I shall remain. Yet, if you just glanced my way, you would see nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I appear quite healthy. Just the other day, someone walked over to me and while pointing at my leg asked, “How are you recovering?” At first, I was completely puzzled. Then I realized that my limp and use of a cane made him believe I had sustained a simple injury. Trying to convey to others not to believe their eyes is frustrating and, at times, demoralizing. But with practice and the right attitude, the challenges can be less stressful and even empowering as you go through life.

If Looks Could Kill . . .

It was a little more than 10 years ago that my physician strongly suggested that I apply for handicapped parking. Although I knew he was correct, actually using a placard with the words “permanently disabled” was quite difficult to accept. Over time, we have learned to appreciate its many benefits. Wider spots allow for simpler entry and exit with mobility aids. Closer parking conserves energy, keeps us cooler, and helps us to safely navigate congested locations.
Unfortunately, using handicapped parking can be quite stressful when you don’t look disabled. Sure, I use a mobility aid, but in a pinch a shopping cart is similar to a rolling walker and I always have a folding cane with me. We only take a handicapped spot when truly needed, yet continually receive incredulous looks and occasional confrontations from people who believe I am “stealing” a spot from a truly disabled person. The best course is to smile and proceed at my slow pace toward the store. Either they will get bored or the store’s security personnel can intervene. It simply is not a fight worth fighting.

Getting Others to Feel Your Pain

The sensation of pain is our body’s way to protect us from danger, as it elicits a response that we cannot ignore. MS can upset the complex balance in our nervous system, resulting in an unending cycle of pain. This cycle began early in the course of my MS. Attempting to squash the discomfort, I consulted a physician who incorrectly stated, “…MS is lack of sensation, so by definition MS surely does not cause pain”!
It took quite some time to find the correct medical team that understands and supports my fight against the many symptoms of MS. They are truly cherished. Part of that team must also include your pharmacy, and if they treat you with anything less than the respect that you deserve, speak to the manager and regional manager. It has worked for me — just be polite, but firm.

‘I’m Not Drunk, I Have MS‘

So many times I’ve wanted to make these T-shirts, helping me to feel less self-conscious about the stares I get when I slur words or stumble when I walk. Unfortunately, even when in social settings, most people are unaware that MS causes symptoms other than walking difficulties. When making small talk, I may say, “Wow, I just wonder what it looks like when my MS makes me…” This often puts them at ease and opens a dialogue between us. They may retell this with others in the group, hopefully dispelling any rumors.
All of us can educate others about living with invisible disabilities. Not only is this empowering, but the awareness also may even make our own lives less stressful.

The Risk Of Developing MS: