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No Simple Explanation

 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body.  In the worst cases, it can bring partial or complete paralysis. Researchers don’t yet know what causes this disease or how to cure it, but they’ve been making progress on both fronts.

Symptoms of MS arise most often between the ages of 20 and 40. It often begins with blurred or double vision, color distortion, or even blindness in one eye. It can cause muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness or tingling, and difficulty with coordination and balance. MS can bring many other symptoms as well.

In some people, doctors may not be able to readily identify the cause of these symptoms. Patients may endure years of uncertainty and multiple diagnoses while baffling symptoms come and go.  The vast majority of patients are mildly affected, but in the worst cases, MS can leave a person unable to write, speak or walk.


MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system inappropriately attacks the brain and spinal cord. Specifically, the immune system targets the fatty insulating material around nerves called myelin. When myelin is damaged, the messages that nerve cells send and receive can be interrupted.

Researchers estimate that 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS. Scientists don’t yet understand what triggers the immune system to attack myelin in these people. But researchers do know that whites are more than twice as likely as others to develop MS, and women almost twice as likely as men.

Geography seems to play a role in MS. The disease is much more prevalent in temperate climates than in tropical regions. Your risk for MS seems to depend on where you live 
before the age of 15. Some studies have found that a person who moves before the age of 15 tends to adopt the risk of the new area. People moving after age 15 seem to maintain the risk level of the area where they grew up. Some researchers believe that vitamin D, which the body makes when sunlight strikes the skin, may lower the risk of MS and help explain these findings, but studies haven’t yet confirmed this link.

Some microbes, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, have been suspected of causing MS. But researchers haven’t been able to prove for certain that any microbes raise your chances of getting MS. Cigarette smoking, however, does appear to raise your risk.

Genes clearly affect how likely you are to develop MS. Having a sibling with MS raises your risk of getting MS to about 4% to 5%; having an identical twin raises your risk to about 25% to 30%. These facts suggest a strong genetic component to MS. However, although some studies have linked specific genes to MS, most of the results haven’t been definitive. Researchers are now working on more detailed studies.

There’s no cure yet for MS, but various therapies can treat it. Researchers are continuing to develop new and better therapies for MS, with several now in the pipeline.

 

LOUISA -- The Lawrence County Smile Savers Coalition met on Tuesday, March 1 at the Conference Room of the Lawrence County Health Department.

Report was made by Ruth Riley, Director of Little Luv’s Learning Center regarding the first usage of “Mojo the Monkey” which was purchased by the coalition to be their “Ambassador of Good Oral Health.”  The learning center staff decided, upon the successful appearance of Mojo with the preschool students, that he would be used with the school age children.

He was a big hit with that group as well.  A video tape was being used for training purposes, and Mojo was included in that taping.  During the coalition meeting, Mojo was invited to appear at two special classes being presented at Fallsburg Elementary School.  It appears this “Ambassador” is going to be quite popular.

Any group wishing to use Mojo and his sidekick “Li’l Mojo” for oral health presentations may check the pair out from the Lawrence County Public Library.  Ms. Deanna Nelson, Children’s Coordinator at the library, will also be presenting programs in the pre-school to 3rd grade classes of the county elementary schools in the near future.

The group went on to discuss their tentative plan to work with current 8th grade students by doing a survey this school year, then begin a program to encourage the students to receive oral health check-ups and treatment every six months through their high school years.  The survey is already in place on a computer website, and last minute details are being put in place so the survey can begin.  Part of the program will include teeth whitening kits for the participating students, along with follow-up care by their family dentists.

Statistics for our county indicate that less than 50% of Lawrence County students are receiving regular dental care.  The focus of the Smile Savers coalition is to improve those statistics by encouraging the students to have check-ups twice yearly, and they are also investigating a plan to bring in a mobile dental health care program for those students who may not have dental insurance or who don’t have access to transportation to oral health providers.

The next meeting of the Smile Savers oral health coalition will be on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lawrence County Health Department conference room.  Persons interested in the dental health of the young people of our county are welcome to attend the meetings.

 

Rep. Joni Jenkins and First Lady Jane Beshear urge Kentucky taxpayers to participate

FRANKFORT, KY —  In an effort to support breast cancer research in Kentucky, Rep. Joni Jenkins, (D-Louisville), and First Lady Jane Beshear are asking Kentucky taxpayers to “check” a box on their income tax returns as an easy way to donate funds to help eradicate the disease.  Rep. Jenkins and Mrs. Beshear were joined by Rep. Addia Wuchner, (R-Burlington), Senator Kathy Stein, (D-Lexington), and State Auditor Crit Luallen.

Help support breast cancer research...In 2005, the Kentucky General Assembly established the creation of the Breast Cancer Research and Education Trust Fund to support and advance breast cancer research, education, treatment, screening and awareness efforts in the state. The trust fund is managed by a board of directors that awards competitive grants to eligible organizations providing breast cancer programs and services.

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