Mercy Neurologist Dr. Bonnie Gerecke Discusses Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Like most auto-immune diseases, multiple sclerosis is more prevalent in women than men, three times more prevalent to be exact.
While the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are not always obvious, treatments for the disease are improving.
Robin Larkins is hopeful for that.
Movement is getting more and more difficult for Larkins, who has multiple sclerosis. She has already battled melanoma and heart disease, but she said MS by far has been the hardest to fight.
"Because not knowing from day to day what your body is going to go through next (it's tough)," Larkins said. "Not knowing if you're going to be able to get up and go to the bathroom, or if you are going to be able to move a limb, or if it's not working."
According to Mercy’s Dr. Bonnie Gerecke, Director of The Neurology Center at Mercy as well as Chief of Neurology and Medical Director of Rehabilitation, an MS diagnosis can be easily missed.
"A lot of times people have symptoms for many years before they're diagnosed sometimes because they ignore the symptoms," Dr. Gerecke said. "They may tell a health care practitioner, but they are symptoms that are common."
Common symptoms can include vision loss, numbness or tingling, pain and also problems with balance and heat intolerance.
"If you've had symptoms that persist maybe more than 24 hours, something that's different than what you're used to having and really if it's just something you're concerned about, it's better to talk to your health care practitioner and let them sort out whether it is something you need to be concerned about or not," Dr. Gerecke said.
While there’s currently no cure for MS, medications to slow the progress of the disease have improved greatly over the last 10 years.
Larkins uses this injectable medication to treat her physical challenges, but the hardest challenge to overcome is the emotional one. She gets through it with the help of prayer and the occasional cry.
"It's hard," she said. "It's really, really hard."
View Mercy neurologist Dr. Bonnie Gerecke’s interview regarding the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.
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