What is Multiple Sclerosis? MS Symptoms, Course

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, potentially disabling disease that damages the central nervous system; the brain, and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease, which causes damage to the nerve cells and the so-called myelin that surrounds the nerve cells.

What multiple sclerosis means?

The body attempts to repair the holes in the myelin with the available tissue, creating hard (“sclerotic”) nodules. Damage occurs at multiple points within the central nervous system, hence the term “multiple.

Who and when gets MS?

It occurs predominantly in young adulthood and, in half of the cases, results in disability due to irreversible tissue damage.

How many people have Multiple sclerosis?

2.5 million people worldwide are affected. About twice as many women develop MS as men.

When the first symptoms of MS appear?

Most patients experience the first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40.

How and why MS develops?

The course of multiple sclerosis is unforeseeable, and its severity dramatically varies. Some people develop a mild form of the disease, while in others it can lead to permanent impairment.

Multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease because it is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly identifies and attacks the body’s cells.

Inheritance appears to play a role in the development of multiple sclerosis. 5% of patients also have an affected parent or siblings. 15% have close relatives as an MS patient.

Environmental factors also play a role; 5 times more people have the disease who lived their first 10 years of age on the temperate belt than who lived in the tropics.

Adult people near the equator rarely develop multiple sclerosis. The climate where people spend their first 10 years seems more important than where they spend the rest of their lives.

Multiple sclerosis is diverse and unpredictable.

Many times, the disease starts with a single symptom and is not followed by months or years of additional symptoms.

In others, the symptoms worsen and become more extensive within weeks, months. As aggravations become more frequent, disability becomes more severe and continuous. In spite of disability, most sick people have an average life span.

What are the symptoms of MS?

The symptoms of MS vary widely depending on the location of the affected nerves. Complaints can affect any part of the nervous system, so the following symptoms may not always occur at the same time.

  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs. Typically, it affects only one side of the body at the same time — also, either the lower or upper part.
  • Partial or complete loss of vision. Usually, it develops on one eye and maybe pain associated with eye movement.
  • Double vision or blurred vision.
  • Numbness of different parts of the body.
  • Burning or cold sensation.
  • Electroshock-like sensation after specific head movements.
  • Trembling, lack of coordination, or unsteady gait.
  • Dizziness.
  • Spinning dizziness, with occasional nausea.
  • Fatigue.

Diagnosing Multiple sclerosis

MRI is the most sensitive imaging technique that can most likely detect areas of the brain lacking myelin. It can distinguish between active areas where demyelination is taking place and those where they are no longer present.

The course of Multiple sclerosis

Most people with MS have a relapsing-remitting type of progress. More simply, they experience periods of new symptoms, followed by complete or partial remission (recovery), or a reduction in symptoms, followed by a stable period.

Multiple sclerosis patients are often able to continue their active lives, although they are tired and unable to maintain a tight agenda.

The nerves that regulate bowel movement and urine may also be affected, which can lead to the inability to hold urine and feces, or to emptying it. Many patients learn to catheterize themselves to empty their bladders and are taking stool softeners and laxatives to keep their bowel movements in order.

Multiple sclerosis treatment

There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. Although, medications can modify the course of the disease, and alleviate the symptoms, restrain damage to new areas of the CNS, reduce the number of relapses and delay the progression of MS. Regular exercise, such as walking, swimming, and stretching, which reduces stiffness helps maintain circulation, muscle, and mental health. Physiotherapy helps maintain balance and gait, freedom of movement and reduces stiffness and weakness.

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