American actress Christina Applegate has revealed she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The Emmy award winner, who gained recognition for starring as Kelly Bundy in the sitcom Married... with Children and is known for her role as Rachel’s sister on Friends, announced the news on social media, describing the diagnosis as a “strange journey”.
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The actress, 49, wrote: “Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It’s been a strange journey.
"But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some a****** blocks it."
She later added: "As one of my friends that has MS said ‘we wake up and take the indicated action’.
"And that’s what I do. So now I ask for privacy. As I go through this thing. Thank you xo".
Applegate’s diagnosis comes several years after she announced she had breast cancer, which was detected at an early stage.
She made a full recovery and was declared cancer-free in 2008 following a double mastectomy.
Fellow actress Selma Blair also suffers with the condition, as well as Jack Osbourne, Jamie-Lynne Sigler and Montel Williams.
What is multiple sclerosis?
MS is a lifelong autoimmune condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a range of potential symptoms which can include problems with vision, arm and leg movement, sensation, balance and coordination.
It occurs when something goes wrong with the immune system causing it to attack the myelin sheath, the layer which surrounds and protects the nerves.
This attack results in damage to the sheath and potentially the underlying nerves, meaning messages travelling along the nerves can become slowed or disrupted.
Most people diagnosed with the condition have relapsing remitting MS, meaning they will experience episodes of new or worsening symptoms.
Symptoms can last from days to months, and will then slowly improve over a similar period of time.
Around half of people with this type of MS go on to develop secondary progressive MS after many years, which sees symptoms gradually worsen without obvious attacks.
Just over one in 10 people with MS initially have gradual worsening of symptoms.
These people with primary progressive MS see symptoms accumulate and get worse over several years with no periods of remission.
The condition is not fatal, but it does reduce average life expectancy by up to 10 years.
MS is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, according to the NHS, although it can develop at any age and is around two to three times more common in women than men.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of MS can vary from person to person, and can affect any part of the body.
The main symptoms of the condition include:
- difficulty walking
- vision problems, such as blurred vision
- problems controlling the bladder
- numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
- muscle stiffness and spasms
- problems with balance and coordination
- problems with thinking, learning and planning
Symptoms may come and go in phases depending on the type of MS you have, while some will get steadily worse over time.
Can MS be treated?
While there is currently no known cure for MS, it is possible to treat the symptoms in many cases.
Types of treatment will depend on the specific symptoms that a person is suffering and can include use of steroids to reduce the number of relapses, amantadine for fatigue, physiotherapy to help improve muscle spasms and stiffness, and medicines to treat neuropathic pain.
If you think you have symptoms of MS, you should seek advice from your GP.
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