March is Multiple Sclerosis awareness month.  To explain what multiple sclerosis is I was joined on WJON by Dr. Kathleen Rieke, the Director of Neurology at CentraCare, St. Cloud.  Dr. Rieke says MS is where your body, for reasons we really don't understand, decides to attack the nerves of your brain and spinal cord.  She says MS breaks down the pathways to allow people to transmit information which results in numbness, weakness, difficulty talking, dizziness and a variety of neurological things.  Dr. Rieke says people of any age can get MS but those in the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to be diagnosed with women being 3 times more likely to get MS than men.  She says is isn't known why women are more likely.

103.7 The Loon logo
Get our free mobile app

Dr. Rieke explains research has indicated one of the biggest risk factors for MS is where you've lived the first 13 years of your life.  She says the farther you are from the equator the more likely you are to get MS.  Based on that Dr. Rieke says Minnesota has very high rates compared to other places in the country like Arizona, for instance.  She says genetics can also play a role in the likelihood of getting MS.

To diagnose someone with multiple sclerosis an MRI is done along with a spinal tap.  Dr. Rieke explains some things can look like MS like Lyme disease.

Dr. Rieke says the vast majority of people diagnosed with MS are not going to die due from their MS.  She says it isn't like being diagnosed with cancer.  Dr. Rieke says it is a health condition they have to manage over a lifetime.  She explains treatment for MS has improved dramatically over the years.  Dr. Rieke says a person diagnosed with MS in the 1980s would likely die due to their MS but since the 1990s the treatments and procedures that are now done help the person better manage the disease and greatly prolong their life.

If you'd like to learn more about Multiple Sclerosis my 4-part conversation with Dr. Kathleen Rieke is available below.






Come Visit St. Martin, Minnesota with us in Pictures

More From 103.7 The Loon