29 June 2012
The news that well-known TV daredevil Jack Osbourne has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) has thrust the serious medical condition into the spotlight.
Jack, who is the son of music icon Ozzy Osbourne and acid-tongued talent judge turned chat show host Sharon, was found to have the incurable autoimmune disease this year, and he announced it in June.
The Osbourne family revealed Jack's battle with the condition in a recent issue of Hello! magazine, which came at a shock to many due to the fact that the new father is only 26 years old.
Here, a few medical experts look at how people can look out for the onset of MS, as well as how to handle living with the disease.
What are the symptoms of MS?
Pam Macfarlane, chief executive of the MS Trust, pointed out that it is very difficult to diagnose someone who is suffering from the early onset of MS.
This is because "the symptoms are very varied and can be common to many other conditions", she explained.
Such a problem is highlighted due to the fact that common symptoms of MS at the time of diagnosis can include fatigue, mobility or balance problems, pins and needles, burning sensations and numbness.
Issues with sight can be linked to the serious disease too, with blurred and double vision, as well as loss of vision in one eye, some of the other common symptoms.
Jack Osbourne was actually diagnosed with the incurable autoimmune disease after fighting an illness which resulted in him losing 60 per cent of his vision in his right eye. He has still only regained 80 per cent of the vision after overcoming that particular spell.
Ed Holloway, head of care and services research at the Multiple Sclerosis Society, agrees that diagnosing MS can be a very difficult task.
But he was keen to state: "There is no exhaustive list of symptoms, however, some physical symptoms commonly experienced are vision and balance problems, dizziness, fatigue, bladder problems as well as stiffness and/or spasms."
What is the best approach for living with MS?
After being diagnosed with his severe form of MS, Jack admitted to Hello! that initially he was "really, really angry" at the news.
"Then I got really sad for about two days," he went on. "And after that I realised, being angry and upset is not going to do anything at this point - if anything it's only going to make it worse. 'Adapt and overcome' is my new motto."
Mr Holloway acknowledged that being diagnosed with MS "can be difficult to come to terms with", especially straight after the news has hit home.
Therefore, the medical expert recommended: "It is important to consult doctors and specialists about the condition and to be aware of the support and care available."
Ms Macfarlane agreed with this advice, believing that every person fighting this condition must try and obtain the best possible information and seek out support.
She explained: "Access to an MS specialist nurse can be a huge help, especially when making decisions about treatments, or when symptoms change."
However, the specialist believes that living with MS should be taken one step at a time, as too much information can just leave a person feeling more overwhelmed.
Is a cure for MS any closer to reality?
At the moment, there is no clear path to finding a universal cure to assist those fighting the serious condition.
However, both Ms Macfarlane and Mr Holloway acknowledged that studies into the disease have come on leaps and bounds in the past few years.
"There have been significant research advances in recent years which provide hope that treatments may become available within the next 15-20 years that effectively repair or even reverse the damage caused by MS," Mr Holloway said.
The expert was keen to underline that these treatments may not create a universal cure straight away, but a combination of two or more treatments could push a solution one step closer to reality.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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