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Expat Investor : January February 2009
HEALTHCARE Most common disease of the central nervous system In this regular column on medical conditions, Dr Sneh Khemka, Medical Director, BUPA International, explains multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system, affecting over two and a half million people around the world. MS is most common in young adults aged between 20 and 40 and affects twice as many women as men. MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease, meaning that your immune system, instead of protecting your body against bacteria and viruses, actually attacks your own healthy body tissue.MS occurs when damage has been made to the sheath surrounding the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord – called myelin – which is responsible for transmitting messages correctly to different body parts. If you have MS, the myelin has become damaged and is unable to send messages correctly, which can cause muscle and limb weakness, reduced coordination, balance problems, impaired vision, numbness and burning sensations in the limbs. The term ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ comes from ‘sclerosis’ meaning ‘scarring’ and ‘multiple’ which relates to the multiple sites the scarring can occur on the brain and spinal cord. The most common form of MS is relapse-remitting MS, which is the form 80 per cent of sufferers will initially develop. It means you will have relapses (when your symptoms will flare up) followed by periods of remission (when your symptoms get better). Relapses can come on suddenly, usually lasting for two to six weeks. Relapse-remitting MS can often develop into other forms of MS, where the frequency and severity of attacks may increase. The exact cause of MS is unknown; however, experts believe that it can be triggered by both environmental and genetic factors. Research shows that some people A country profile from AXA PPP HealthcareHealth issues in Vietnam Like other countries within this Vietnam is situated in south-east Asia and is a one-party communist state with fast growing economies. It has a population of approximately 87.4 million people (UN, 2007) and hopes to become a developed nation by 2020. The country is situated within the tropics and has a long coastline on 16 EXPAT INVESTOR ? the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea. region, it has a tropical monsoon climate. In southern Vietnam, there is a dry season from December until April or May and the temperature remains between 20 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and 40 January/February 2009 have certain groups of genes which make them more susceptible to MS and that external factors such as a virus can also trigger the disease. Some studies show that the location of where you live in the world could also affect your risk of getting MS. To diagnose MS, it requires a combination of a history of typical symptoms, with confirmation on MRI scan. The symptoms often include problems with vision, bladder or bowel control, or loss of control of one your limbs. If suspected, your doctor should refer you to a neurologist for confirmatory tests. degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) all year long. The temperatures in the north are more variable, ranging between 10 and 35 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Due to the typhoons and tropical storms between June and December, there is a high risk of flooding, and the Foreign and Commonwealth expatinvestor.com Office warns, “In August and September 2008, Northern and Central Vietnam experienced torrential rain resulting in severe flooding. This has caused considerable damage to local infrastructure, including road and rail links. If you are planning to visit Northern or Central Vietnam you should check with your tour operator before travelling to the affected areas.” As a result of these floods the There is no definitive cure for MS, but different medications can be prescribed to reduce certain symptoms. Many people also find complementary therapies helpful. Additionally, neurologists at specialist MS clinics can prescribe medication to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Whatever the form of MS and whatever route of treatment is chosen, it is essential to have good, reliable support to help deal with the physical and emotional implications of the disease. Fast Facts 22151 country’s water systems have been affected, and by drinking the tap water you increase the risk of contracting cholera, typhoid and other diseases. Therefore, it is advisable that you only drink water that has been filtered, boiled or is bottled and sealed to help to protect you against the risks of contracting these diseases. You may also wish to avoid eating food from street vendors, as this may also be contaminated. The Foreign and
March April 2009