Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic health condition that typically affects people who are 20 to 40 years old. And women are twice as likely to have the disease as men. If you have MS, it can be a sometimes scary and uncertain diagnosis, but with the right treatment, you can help control symptoms. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about MS. What is MS?MS is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue. In this case, it’s healthy nerves and myelin, which make up the protective layer covering nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain. Myelin helps your brain and spinal cord — part of the central nervous system (CNS) — communicate with the rest of your body. Watch: How MS Affects the Central Nervous System >> When the immune system attacks these electrical pathways, it can cause scarring, called sclerosis, in the CNS. Your symptoms will depend on where scarring occurs in the CNS. Over time, MS can cause permanent damage to nerves. There are several forms of MS, with relapsing-remitting MS being the most common. Of all the people who have MS, 8 out of 10 of them will have relapsing-remitting MS. Relapsing-remitting MS means symptoms can come and go. An MS attack, or flare-up, means you’re actively having symptoms. Remission is a period when your body feels as it did before the flare, but it doesn’t mean your symptoms completely disappear.Is MS genetic?There isn’t a specific gene that causes MS and gets passed down from parents to children, but you might inherit how likely you are to get MS. Research shows multiple genes can play a role in developing MS. In fact, variation in one gene known as the HLA-DRB1 is the biggest genetic risk factor for getting MS. This gene variation might have some part in how the immune system attacks the myelin sheath and nerves.What are the signs and symptoms of MS?MS can cause a variety of symptoms, and the symptoms each person has can be different from another person’s. Early symptoms of MS can include: Blurry vision, seeing double or pain in the eye with movementMuscle weakness in the hands and legsStiff muscles with spasmsNumbness, tingling or pain in the arms, legs, face or torsoDifficulty with balanceDizzinessUrinary problems Some symptoms of MS can develop later and include: Feeling fatigued, both physically and mentally (this can happen with early symptoms when an MS attack is coming on)Changes in moodTrouble concentrating, learning difficulties or memory concernsIs race a risk factor for MS? MS traditionally has been a health condition that affects white people of European background. People who are of Hispanic and Asian backgrounds are far less likely to get MS than white people of European background. But recently, scientists have seen an increase in MS in Black people. In fact, there are probably more Black people, particularly Black women, who have MS than we previously thought. MS might also affect Black people differently than white people,

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