Are You Aware Now?

This month we have been highlighting some of the most worthwhile awareness campaigns for often overlooked diseases and syndromes affecting thousands of American citizens every day. Myasthenia Gravis (or MG) – while not well known or understood, its effects can be devastating. It is the commonest neuromuscular transmission disorder, with as many as 60,000 sufferers. Muscle weakness can affect every part of your body, with the weak muscles having a detrimental effect on the more normally functioning parts of your body. Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that causes an inability to understand spoken and written words. Many things can cause aphasia  like head trauma or stroke but even extreme forms of stress can precipitate this terrifying inability to be understood. Cytomegalovirus (say “CY-toe-MEG-a-lo” or CMV) is a usually harmless virus in most people and yet in those with an immune deficiency it is the biggest cause of birth defects in the United States. More babies are born with defects due to CMV than Downs Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and HIV/AIDS. Almost as hard to say as it is to understand, scleroderma (say “SKLER-ro-DER-ma” or “hardening skin”) is another little known yet surprisingly common disease which richly deserves greater exposure. Fibrosis or hardening of the skin is irritating and painful ,of course, but it can also sometimes lead to vascular hardening which can be a life threatening condition. And finally while blindness itself is a well known and easily understood condition, cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye, are one of the most common and in many cases preventable ways to lose your sight. Although not just an elderly illness, cataracts are caused by a variety of existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension, but also environmental factors like toxins, radiation and UV light. Cataracts are correctable by surgery, but many factors like poverty, advancement of the disease and the age of the patient can stand in the way of effective treatment. Please take the time to read about and understand the issues surrounding these diseases this week. Hopefully you and your family will never suffer from them, but if the worst happens, at least you’ll now have some idea what to expect. And help to raise awareness of these by sharing information on Facebook and Twitter – the more people who know about these diseases, the easier it is for researchers to get the funding to find cures.

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