A few tell-tale signs are what clued Jack Osbourne into the fact that something was seriously wrong with his health. The son of hard rock icon Ozzy and "America's Got Talent" judge Sharon Osbourne revealed earlier this week that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this spring.
According to the "Today Show," Osbourne, 26, decided to visit a doctor when he noticed tingling in his extremities and suffered a 60 percent loss of vision in one eye.
MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system and which currently has no cure, but is very treatable. It causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord resulting in the loss of myelin, the insulation around nerves. Among the symptoms are: loss of vision, numbness, tingling, excessive fatigue and weakness. The effects can range from mild to debilitating, but experts said that with the right mix of medications and doctors Osbourne has a good chance at leading a fulfilling life.
"The prognosis now is better than it's ever been," neurologist Dr. David Snyder, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at New York Hospital Queens told the morning show. "We have treatments we just never had before."
The disease can affect any organ system in the body, according to NBC chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman. "Every nerve has insulation around it and MS attacks that insulation so that the electrical impulses from the brain to tips of fingers and toes don't work as well," she said. The key for Osbourne is keeping in tune with any changes to his body and getting on the right mix of medicines to help slow down the progress of flare-ups.
"Now somebody on medication, treated early, we're very hopefully we're interrupting the natural course of the disease," Snyder said. "Patients are leading full lives, with families, jobs and travel."
While some people have not responded well to treatments, he said a large number do and lead full, if slightly modified, lives that may require a cane or other precautions. Around 400,000 people in the U.S. have MS, with 200 new cases diagnosed each week. Like other autoimmune diseases, MS affects more women than men, affecting females two to three times more than men.
Osbourne is right in peak age range in which most cases are diagnosed (late teens, 20s and 30s), which is why his revelation is not a surprise to experts. Snyder said that given Osbourne's age, his prognosis is relatively bright.