10 bold myths about MS

Multiple sclerosis is an illness subject to many myths that turn out to be misconceptions believed by far too many. When you scratch the surface, you find stubborn tales that create unnecessary anxiety and sleepless nights for those living with the illness.

So let’s just throw some of the many misconceptions out the door, shall we?

  1. Why is your MS not like my mine?
    Finding two people who are exactly alike in their MS narrative – symptoms, treatment plan and their prognosis – is very difficult to find. MS affects different people in different ways as there is no standard list of symptoms. Comparing people with MS is unhealthy as it creates many misconceptions.
  2. My dental fillings gave me MS
    There is no scientific evidence to show that amalgam fillings and heavy metal poisoning cause or worsen MS. The amount of metal in dental fillings is so low it doesn’t lead to heavy metal poisoning. While HMP can lead to nerve damage, the development and symptoms are different from what happens in MS.
  3. MS and pregnancy don’t go hand in hand
    Scientific research shows that MS symptoms decrease during pregnancy. Many people, however (including myself), still believe that having children means they will have a higher chance of having MS also. In fact, only a small percentage of children will be diagnosed, but many will lead a fulfilling life.
  4. Nobody in my family has MS, so there is no chance I can have MS myself
    Wrong! Yours truly, Miss DSF, Delightfully Sarcastic Female, is living proof that MS has to start somewhere on the family tree. Sadly, it happened to be mine, and myself. It’s not a direct hereditary illness, but there are some genetic factors involved (having a parent with MS marginally increases a child’s risk). With the cause of MS still unknown, it’s a waiting game. Environmental and viral triggers as Epstein-Barr virus (glandular fever) is being looked at also.
  5. MS doesn’t cause any pain
    Oh dear! Anyone who dares telling me that chronic pain is all in my head will forcefully be put in my worst and most painful shoes. Not for just a day, but for a month. The no-pain myth was a century old one that has slowly but surely been turned around. It’s now a well-known fact that PwMS do feel different, very strong kinds of pain. There are three main categories of pain: neuropathic, musculoskeletal and paroxysmal, with more types of pain in each category. For more on the different kinds of pain and what they entail, please click here. 
  6. There is only one road after your diagnosis, the road of the wheelchair
    About 25% of people diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS might need a wheelchair at some stage in their life. This, however, means that 75% of people remain mobile, perhaps helped by a walking stick but not necessarily by wheelchairs. Focus on the 75% instead of the 25% when you’re afraid of what the future might bring.
  7. I’m too young to have an MS diagnosis
    Another myth or misconception is thinking that only elderly people can get MS. With new and better imaging technology that was the case ten years ago, people are getting diagnosed younger and younger. Younger people have a tendency to adapt quickly to treatment, which means that they will have a good quality of life as they grow older.
  8. MS is contagious
    MS is not something you can catch from someone with MS. There is no transfer of airborne bacteria or viruses, and neither can it be transferred via body fluids.
  9. MS means you’re terminally ill
    MS doesn’t kill you directly, and even though it might somethings get you down, but medically speaking, MS is not a death sentence. People with MS pass away from similar illnesses like healthy people, and more people now have access to newer, better fitting disease-modifying treatments. When people with advanced MS can avoid infection, breathing and/or heart problems, life expectancy can almost be similar to healthy people.
  10. MS symptoms are physical only
    Another no-brainer that should be highlighted much more. PwMS can have cognitive issues like memory, problems talking, short attention span, concentration issues etc. Approximately 65% of those living with MS, will experience some form of cognitive issues at some stage in their life. Other symptoms can be of a sensory, mental or sexual nature also.

Updated: June 6th, 2018

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

3 thoughts on “10 bold myths about MS

  1. Billie, I think its vital to deal with these myths over and over as so many people just don’t know (or want to know) about MS even though it is part of life for many. I suspect what’s scary is the fact that the prevalence of MS is high here in Ireland so no one can view it as something that will never come his/her way.
    You do a great job in the whole sphere of education and being living proof that MS does not define a person.

    1. Ah thanks Jean, I really appreciate it!

      A lot of what people know about MS is hearsay, and pretty stubborn hearsay also. Even people who’ve known you for decades, have their own ideas of what your illness should be like in their eyes. I came across more topics also but wanted to keep it short enough as not to overcrowd people’s minds with it.

      When I started this blog three years ago, I didn’t wanted it to be all about myself, but I was desperate to get real facts and figures out there also, which is why I refer to it in my short intro on my main page… “not always pretty as punch, but brutally honest.” It’s the only way people will know that “hey, I had no idea but next time I see him or her, I will keep this in mind to avoid wrong ideas about MS, or that person.”

      Even if only person keeps that in mind next time they meet someone with MS, then my goad has been reached.

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