Frequent exposure to paints and other solvents can increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS)

12:39 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India

India currently is home to about 2 lakh people with this condition

New Delhi, 6th July 2018: Exposure to paint, varnish, and other solvents can put people at a 50% higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a study has indicated. Those who have been smokers with solvent exposure and the MS genes are 30 times more likely to develop MS than those who have never smoked or been exposed to solvents and who do not have the genetic risk factors.

In recent years, the prevalence of MS has changed dramatically worldwide with India being no exception. Initially, MS was believed to be more common in the Caucasians of Northern Europe and United States. However, it has been found to be present in the Indian subcontinent as well. Globally, about 2.3 million people are affected by this condition, while there are about 2 lakh patients in India.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), said, “MS is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. While its onset is usually around young adulthood, it has been found to affect the pediatric population as well. What further exacerbates the situation is the high cost of drugs as also the non-availability of oral drugs for treating this condition. The injectable drugs (which form a majority of those available for treatment) can cost up to Rs 50,000. Many people can even slip into depression over time due to the debilitating nature of this condition. It is imperative to counsel anyone who is diagnosed with MS right at the outset to avoid potential anxiety and negative thoughts.”

The symptoms of MS differ from person to person and over the course of the disease depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. Some of them include numbness or weakness in one or more limbs; partial or complete loss of vision; double vision; tingling or pain in the body; electric-shock sensations; tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait; slurred speech; fatigue; dizziness; and problems with bowel and bladder function.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “There is no prevention yet for MS, while research is on for developing new medications, immune system modifications, and other ways to identify potential causes. MS-affected people have a normal life expectancy. However, in the absence of the right treatment, it can progress to mobility dysfunction and even complications such as pneumonia.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Movement of the body is crucial in patients with MS at every stage. Regular exercise promotes better flexibility, boosts balance, and can also help with common MS complications.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene by sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, keeping the room dark and cool, avoiding too many fluids before bedtime, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Get plenty of Vitamin D. As per a recent research, people with MS who are vitamin D deficient tend to suffer more significant progression of the disease.
  • Smoking is a big risk factor for having MS as well as for the worsening of the disease. Quit this habit as well as drinking to help manage symptoms.
  • Talk to your near and dear ones if you feel depressed. This will help you feel better and positive. Try meditating for some time during the day.

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