May 10, 2002 Posted: 1:47 PM EDT (1747 GMT)
Q: What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis? How at risk are women in their 20s or 30s? -- Brandy in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
A: Brandy, many of the symptoms of MS, multiple sclerosis, are unpredictable and vary from person to person. For example, some people might experience temporary loss of balance and muscle coordination, slurred speech, tremors, stiffness or bladder problems. In more severe cases, people may experience partial or complete paralysis on a permanent basis.
Keep in mind: Anyone can develop MS. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, most are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. However, twice as many women develop the disease than men. There are treatments that limit the symptoms of MS. So, if you suspect you have symptoms, you should see your doctor to get a thorough exam.
Q: Can stress cause the onset of lupus? -- Jean Manning in Lancaster, California
A: Jean, that's a good question: First, lupus is a widespread and chronic auto-immune disease that causes the body's system to attack its own healthy tissue and organs. Researchers do not know what causes this disease. However, they say extreme stress may trigger lupus symptoms, as can infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, certain drugs and hormones. It's important to point out that lupus can affect men, but according to the Lupus Foundation of America, it occurs 10 to 15 times more frequently in adult females.
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