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Christina Applegate’s recent Emmy Awards speech has sparked a meaningful dialogue about multiple sclerosis (MS), shedding light on its symptoms and risk factors. The 52-year-old actress, known for her roles in Anchorman and Married…With Children, presented an Emmy Award with a cane at the Peacock Theatre in Los Angeles.

As the audience stood to cheer, Applegate humorously remarked that they were teasing her about her MS disability by standing up. She said, “Thank you so much,” and quipped, “Oh my god, you’re shaming me with disability by standing up. It’s fine.”

MS is a lifelong condition affecting the brain and spinal cord, manifesting in symptoms like vision problems, difficulty with movement, sensation issues, muscle stiffness, numbness, and cognitive challenges.

Certain factors may increase the risk of developing MS:

  1. Age:
    • MS can develop at any age, but onset typically occurs between 20 to 40 years.
  2. Sex:
    • Women are two to three times more likely to develop relapsing-remitting MS.
  3. Family history:
    • While not hereditary, having an immediate family member with MS increases the risk.
  4. Race:
    • White individuals, especially of Northern European descent, have a higher risk.
  5. Climate:
    • MS is more prevalent in areas with temperate climates.
  6. Other factors:
    • Lack of Vitamin D, a gene on chromosome 6p21, obesity, smoking, and other autoimmune disorders may contribute.

Dr. Paige Sutton, a neurologist, emphasizes the importance of recognizing signs of a new inflammatory relapse in people with MS, which includes lasting neurologic symptoms.

Although MS is incurable, there are treatments to manage symptoms. Short courses of steroids can expedite recovery from relapses, and disease-modifying therapies can reduce the frequency of relapses. As awareness grows, discussions like Applegate’s contribute to understanding and supporting those affected by MS.

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