What Is Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month?
March, of every year, marks the Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month. The primary focus of this month is to raise public awareness of this life-threatening, neurodegenerative disorder. Multiple System Atrophy researchers are in great need of donations and funding to continue the search for a possible cure* or the underlying cause of Multiple System Atrophy.
About Multiple System Atrophy
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), as its name suggests, is a progressive disease that affects a number of systems in the body. It is connected with the atrophy (deterioration and shrinkage) of certain parts of the brain thus is called a neurodegenerative disorder. MSA impairs the function the nervous system responsible for the body’s involuntary functions like regulation of the digestive system, bladder function and the cardiovascular system. This part of the nervous system is called the autonomic system. It is a rare, adult-onset (>50 years of age), a sporadic disease that affects less than 5 in every 100,000 people. In the United States alone, 75,000 Americans are living with MSA.
Multiple System Atrophy Causes
Despite extensive years of research, no defined cause for Multiple System Atrophy has yet been established. Both genetic and related environmental factors are suspected to play a role in this disease, but nothing has scientifically been proved yet.
Multiple System Atrophy Symptoms
Depending on the symptoms predominates at the time of diagnosis, Multiple System Atrophy is classified into two types: parkinsonian and cerebellar. Nevertheless, the symptoms for both collectively include:
- Ataxia (loss of balance and coordination due to lack of muscle coordination)
- Orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing that may result in dizziness or fainting)
- Loss of bladder control (retention or incontinence)
- Impotence (erectile dysfunction)
- Dysarthria (speech problems)
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing or chewing)
- Respiratory problems and sleeping disorders
- Muscle rigidity and tremors similar to Parkinson’s disease.
Multiple System Atrophy Treatment and Precautions
Unfortunately, there is no current cure* for Multiple System Atrophy and progression of the disease cannot be halted. Treatment strategies focus on managing the disease by treating the symptoms and helping the patient live their life as comfortable as possible. MSA is a fatal disease and the disease progresses rapidly within 5 to 10 years after the first symptoms appear. As the cause is unknown, there are no preventative measures to protect from getting MSA.
Purpose of Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month
Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month was created in response to the need to generate more awareness among the general public. A vast majority of people have little or no information regarding MSA. Ultimately, awareness gives rise to care and support- two things that are greatly needed to help those suffering from MSA and to help those researching MSA. Lack of awareness about this disease has slowed down research due to the difficulties faced by scientists in obtaining funding for their studies. Hopefully, the more awareness raised, the more financial support will be made available for researchers to pursue the challenge of finding a cause or cure* for Multiple System Atrophy.
What can you Do on Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month?
Reading about Multiple System Atrophy is the first thing you can do. Getting to know the signs and symptoms of this disease really give you a clear picture of the adversities and daily suffering faced by those affected by the disease. Get involved and help spread the message. One small like for an MSA page on Facebook or a follow on Twitter for any MSA-related organization will grab someone’s attention. Also, you can show your moral support to those diagnosed with MSA and brighten their day with an honest word of care and support in a post or tweet, for example. Be the voice of MSA!
Organizations spread all over the world, in every continent, are available to receive donations towards MSA research. Never underestimate the power of a dollar. For someone hanging onto a shred of hope, that small donation can go a long way in helping to fund MSA research somewhere in the world. The location and exact contact information for these organizations are easily available on the net.
Message on Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month
Currently, MSA has no cure*, no known causes nor any specific risk factors. People diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy slowly lose* the ability to walk, talk, chew, swallow and eventually breathe. They also become physically reliant on family members, friends and relatives to carry out most aspects related to daily living. Thus, not only the patient suffers but also all immediate caregivers who must share in the burden of this debilitating disease suffer. Someone you love or know might be showing the early signs of this disorder, or a doctor might have MSA confused with Parkinson’s disease. It is your responsibility to spread the well-needed knowledge about MSA.