Can You Die Directly from Multiple Sclerosis?

A neurologists answers the question of “Can you die directly from MS?”

Many people are terrified that they might have multiple sclerosis (as evidenced by health anxiety forums), and it seems that a good number of these individuals believe that this disease can be fatal.

So I wanted to find out what a neurologist has to say about this. For this article I gave the question to Karen M. Blitz-Shabbir, DO, Director, North Shore-LIJ's Multiple Sclerosis Center in Great Neck, NY. Dr. Blitz-Shabbir is a neurologist with a special focus on multiple sclerosis.

Here is what she explains:
“The disease is not fatal.  Most patients have normal life spans. Patients with advanced disease and disability can develop infections or other complications that lead to death.”

Infections and complications are potential secondary outcomes of MS, but multiple sclerosis, in and of itself, is not a fatal condition. 

Can Twitching Muscles Be Early Sign of MS?

Many people wonder if twitching muscles might be an early symptom of multiple sclerosis.

I asked this question to Karen M. Blitz-Shabbir, DO, Director, North Shore-LIJ's Multiple Sclerosis Center in Great Neck, NY. Dr. Blitz-Shabbir is a neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis.

Here is what she says:
"Twitching per se is not a common MS symptom and is not considered an early sign of MS. Some symptoms that warrant investigation or consult with a neurologist include weakness, tingling, numbness, tremors."

When I say “twitching,” I’m referring to fasciculations, or the kind of twitching that occurs in perhaps millions of eyelids every day. These same kind of fasciculations also commonly occur in the legs, particularly after heavy exercise or activities like a long hike or hard time spent on cardio equipment.

People usually become aware of their twitching muscles when they are at rest, such as at a computer or when watching TV. Somehow, some way, they come up with the idea that multiple sclerosis often, or just sometimes, starts out with these kinds of muscle twitches.

If you’re still worried that your muscle twitching signals an early symptom of MS, then here are the limb/muscle-related symptoms of this neurological disease according to (no particular order):

Weakness or numbness in at least one limb. Typically this happens on one side of the body at a time. (Weakness and numbness are not to be confused with twitching muscles, and keep in mind that many, many conditions can cause numbness and especially weakness.)

Tremors. (A tremor is not the same as a fasciculation-type muscle twitch. A tremor is a kind of shaking or trembling.)

Tingling or pain in portions of the body, and/or fatigue.


“My Giant Life”: Super Tall Women Nothing to Feel Sorry For

Colleen from "My Giant Life"
Do the super tall women of TLC’s “My Giant Life” really have struggles when you step back and look at the grand scheme of things?

We all have struggles, and many people wish their biggest problems were finding jeans that are long enough and trying to squeeze into an airplane seat.

Meanwhile, I’ve always wished I were six feet, and envy women who are even taller than this (though my preferred height isn’t exactly “giant” caliber, yet at the same time—a little bit of me envies the women of “My Giant Life.” I don’t feel sorry for these super Amazons, especially since two play my sport, volleyball).

TLC’s “My Giant Life” focuses on four women ranging from 6-6 to 6-9, though one of the “women” is actually a 16-year-old girl who, at 6-6, may still grow another several inches.

“My Giant Life” is sure to be a hit show. What’s always stunned me is how women who are only (yes, “only”) 5-9 can feel self-conscious about their height.

I don’t get this. I was at the gym today. Even though I’m 5-8, I was dwarfed by one man after another in the free weight area. I don’t mean by muscle size, but by height.

So if a woman is 5-9, even close to six feet…she wouldn’t exactly stand out—at least not from where I come from.

And by the way, if someone asks if you play basketball because you’re so tall, don’t be a schmuck and ask them if they play miniature golf. This is as old as the hills, and if it ever was a clever come-back, it certainly lost that zing decades ago. Be a good sport and give an honest answer.

If someone comments, “Gee, you’re so tall,” don’t be snarky by saying something like, “Oh, thank you for pointing that out; I had no idea!” After all, even very tall women are capable (as is the rest of the population) of pointing out the very obvious.

If you’re blessed with generous height, have you never pointed out the obvious before? Perhaps you commented to a stranger in the supermarket line with her preschooler, “Wow, your daughter has such curly hair!”

Chances are, you’ve said the following to at least a dozen women: “Oh, you’re so thin!”

Maybe you’ve said to someone in the park or on the sidewalk in your neighborhood, “Gee, your dog is huge!”

These are all examples of pointing out the obvious. Here’s another one that you may be guilty of: “Wow, your eyes are so blue!”

Yes, it could get very annoying, but that’s no reason for being a schmuckaroo. After watching “My Giant Life,” you’ll have a new perspective on your height.

If you’re struggling with embracing your height, check out these articles:

Muscle Twitching: Is It ALS, Anxiety or BFS? Best Information!

Do twitching muscles have you terrified of ALS? Then you need tons of reassurance, and I have it for you: a collection of the best muscle twitching articles that cover everything imaginable to help you through your ALS panic, fear, anxiety and sleepless nights.

This superb collection of muscle twitching articles was written by me, based on my own experience with a brief bout of muscle twitching fear that was brought on after I Googled the wrong words and ended up reading some scary information on an ALS site. The articles INCLUDE STATEMENTS FROM DOCTORS WHOM I INTERVIEWED.

Because I'm a writer by profession, I decided to write all about muscle twitching, benign fasciculation syndrome (BFS) and the accompanying ALS anxiety and panic.

Muscle twitching is technically known as benign fasciculation syndrome (BFS) if the twitching is accompanied by other symptoms such as tingling, cramping and soreness. Twitching muscles, in isolation, are known as fasciculations. These fasciculations are not to be confused with restless leg syndrome, even though some types of muscle twitching can be described as "creepy crawlies" under the skin.

Everyone experiences muscle twitching, by the way. The difference between the people who are consumed with fear they have deadly ALS, and everyone else, is that, by sheer freak chance, on a bad day, the people in the first group Googled "twitching muscles" or something similar, and found themselves glued to an ALS site.

The ensuing fear of having ALS can happen to just about anybody. You CAN overcome it! Read every one of my well-organized articles to help with your recovery. You will be so very reassured. 

And if you have relapses, each will be less disastrous than the last, until eventually, relapses last only for 10 minutes, until finally, you'll no longer have them!

I've reached a point where I just LOVE the feel of muscle twitching in my right hamstring, because one of the muscles has a slow-healing, running-related injury. The "fascs" literally give it relief and feel like a mini-massage.

Any time you need reassurance that you don't have ALS, refer to the links below and click on the article that best describes the assurance you seek.

TwitchingMuscles, Calf Cramps, Dents Facing the Terror

Chest Pain, Swallowing Hurts: Heart Attack or Esophagus Spasm?

Chest pain with painful swallowing can mean a number of things including heart attack in progress, heart attack in the near future and benign esophageal spasms.

About 200,000 people in the U.S. every year suffer from some kind of non-cardiac chest pain that may be accompanied by other symptoms like discomfort swallowing.

Dr. Ron Schey, a gastroenterologist at Temple University Hospital, recommends a specific treatment for chest pain that results from an issue with the esophagus rather than the heart: dronabinol.

Dronabinol is a drug that historically has been used for nausea and vomiting that result from chemotherapy. Dr. Schey had a small group of people with non-cardiac chest pain (which can mimic a heart attack and cause severe anxiety) take five mg of dronabinol two times a day for four weeks, while other patients took a placebo.

Those on the dronabinol did better with tolerating their chest pain, and it was less intense and less frequent. Plus, there were no notable side effects.

Because this study was small, it’s not possible to compare how this drug works for non-cardiac chest pain vs. the current therapies. Dr. Schey explains that dronabinol likely works by activating cannabinoid receptors in one’s esophagus, thereby reducing sensitivity. A larger-scale study is planned.

If you’ve been experiencing chest pain, even if there is some kind of difficulty or discomfort with swallowing, you should get a thorough evaluation at the ER to rule out a heart attack (a blood test will do this).

However…the blood test (which checks for leakage from damaged cardiac muscle of an enzyme called troponin) does NOT detect the presence or absence of clogged arteries!

“Troponin is a protein in the heart involved with contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle,” says Jack Wolfson, DO, FACC, a practicing cardiologist in Arizona, author of The Paleo Cardiologist.

He continues: “If troponin is elevated, it is a sign of heart muscle damage. This is obviously not a good thing. But millions of people are walking around with extensive blockages, yet troponin is normal if checked. Again, elevated troponin is a sign that you may be having a heart attack.”

“Thus, if this blood test comes out negative, you should then follow up with your cardiologist. If all is fine, then the next step might be with a gastroenterologist to see if there’s an issue with your esophagus (which could be a spasm or acid reflux, among other issues) that’s causing the chest symptom.