Multiple sclerosis, or MS, impacts somewhere between 400,000 and 1 million Americans, and Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month is a time to bring attention to a disease that many in the medical profession are still working to understand on a deeper level.

MS is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks protective tissue surrounding the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. There’s much left to be learned about the condition and what causes it. In most cases, it’s tough to detect what the risk factors for the disease might be.

The purpose of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month is to bring attention to the current state of research. It’s a time to become involved with various MS societies or wear an orange ribbon with a butterfly symbol. Orange is the color for MS, and the butterfly represents the shape of the MRI brain scan of a person with MS.

Below are some statistics regarding the impact of Multiple Sclerosis

  • Recent studies show that MS is three times more likely in women than in men.
  • Most MS patients receive their diagnosis somewhere between 20 and 50, though you can be diagnosed at any age.
  • The prevalence of MS varies with location around the world and increases as we get further from the equator. It’s unclear if there is an environmental factor involved with this, such as a deficiency in Vitamin D.
  • Around 15 percent of MS patients report having one or more family members or relatives who also had the disease.

If You’re Looking to Take Action

There are four different types of MS, and some can be quite severe. Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month is a time to advocate for family, friends, or loved ones who may suffer from this disease. If you’re looking to get involved, the National MS Society is a good place to look for volunteer opportunities related to MS. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of America also has volunteer opportunities.

You can help to spread the word about the impact of MS, and the importance of MS research!