Multiple Sclerosis, sometimes called MS, is a disorder in which the protective cover that surrounds the nerves, called the myelin sheath, is damaged by the body's own immune system. Damage to the myelin tissue interrupts the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Some types of Multiple Sclerosis sometimes causes the destruction of the nerves themselves, which is irreversible.
Multiple Sclerosis causes a variety of conditions and symptoms. Some people experience periods of remission that last for long periods of time, while other people with MS lose their ability to walk. The severity of the condition and the symptoms Multiple Sclerosis causes depends on which nerves are affected and how much damage is caused.
Treatments are available that can help patients recover from attacks of the different types of Multiple Sclerosis and manage symptoms, but there is no cure for the disease.
Worldwide, approximately 2.5 million people are affected by different types of Multiple Sclerosis. In the United States, approximately 400,000 individuals are affected by the disease.
Side effects of Multiple Sclerosis can begin at any age, however, signs usually begin to show up in adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. In spite of the fact that MS is more much predominate in Caucasians rather than African Americans, the last testing seems to aggregate inability more rapidly, proposing a more serious tissue damage in this populace. It stays unknown whether this adjusted rate speaks to an ecological impact, hereditary contrast, or other variables.
It is not known what causes these types of Multiple Sclerosis, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body's tissues are attacked by its immune system. In Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system destroys the coating called myelin that is responsible for protecting the nerves of the spinal cord and brain.
The myelin sheath is comparable to the insulation that is commonly found in the insulation coating on electrical wires. When the myelin coating is damaged, the signals that are sent along the nerves can be interrupted or blocked.
No one is sure why some people develop various types of Multiple Sclerosis and others do not. It is believed that a number of factors, such as infections occurring in childhood and genetics may be partially responsible.
Certain factors are thought to increase the risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis. These include:
- Age: People of any age can develop Multiple Sclerosis, but people between 15 and 60 years old are most commonly affected by the disease.
- Sex: Multiple Sclerosis is twice as likely to develop in a woman than it is in a man.
- Family history: People who have a sibling or a parent with Multiple Sclerosis are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Certain infections: There have been a number of different viruses associated with MS. One of these is the virus that can cause infectious Mononucleosis, Epstein-Barr.
- Race: Caucasians, especially of Northern European descent, are among the most likely to develop Multiple Sclerosis. Those with the lowest risk include those of African, Native American or Asian descent.
- Climate: Multiple Sclerosis is seen much more frequently in areas with a temperate climate. This includes the southeastern areas of Europe and Australia, New Zealand, the northern areas of the United States and southern Canada.
- Certain autoimmune disorders: People who have type 1 diabetes, inflammatory disease of the bowel or thyroid disorders are at slightly increased risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis.
- Smoking: Smokers who have one attack of symptoms that may be an onset of MS are more at risk than nonsmokers to have a second attack of symptoms that confirm a diagnosis of relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is very unpredictable and may advance after some time. However, new medicines are showing signs of slowing down the infection.
Its complications are not the same as Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. Manifestations can incorporate weakness, numbness, tingling, difficulty walking,
Multiple Sclerosis may lead to:
- Muscle spasms and/or stiffness
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Paralysis, most often in the legs
- Sexual dysfunction
- Mood swings
- Mental confusion or forgetfulness
Multiple Sclerosis - Symptoms
Individuals who have signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have a tendency to have their first side effects between the ages of 20 and 40.
Monitor your signs of Multiple Sclerosis to enable your specialist to diagnose the course of the ailment and the viability of the treatment.
Regardless of whether you have a finding or are stressed over Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, realize that MS doesn't need to control your life. You can work with your specialist to treat and deal with your symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis so you can remain solid and keep on living the life you need.
Signs of Multiple Sclerosis vary from person to person with the disease and they depend on the severity of damage that occurs and also on the location of the nerves that are affected. People who have symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis may experience:
- Pain, tingling or numbness in parts of their body
- Weakness in one or more of their arms or legs. This usually happens on one side of the body at a time, or one part of the body, like the trunk or legs, at one time
- Shocking sensations that happen when the neck is turned or bent forward
- Complete or partial vision loss.
- Unsteady gait
- Poor coordination
- Fatigue is one of the common signs of multiple sclerosis
- Blurring or double vision
- Slurred speech
- A difficulty with bladder and/or bowel function is one of the signs of multiple sclerosis
The course of the disease
The appearance of new signs of Multiple Sclerosis is called a relapse; when symptoms improve; either totally or partially, the period is known as remission. In most people who have Multiple Sclerosis, the disease follows a relapse-remission course. A relapse occurs with new Multiple Sclerosis symptoms developing over several days or a few weeks, and then the symptoms gradually go into remission. Remission can last several months or several years. If a patient with Multiple Sclerosis develops an infection, the symptoms may temporarily worsen, but in that case, the signs of Multiple Sclerosis are not considered to be a relapse.
In most cases of relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis, patients gradually begin to develop a progression of their symptoms which occur either with or without episodes of remission. This is known as secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis. In these cases, the progression of the disease typically includes problems with walking. The rate at which the disease progresses varies tremendously among individuals with secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
In some cases, MS patients have a gradual onset of symptoms, followed by a steady worsening of the symptoms with no periods of time when the disease relapses. This is known as primary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Diagnosing signs of Multiple Sclerosis requires ruling out other disorders that mimic the disease, causing similar symptoms and signs. This is because there are no specific tests to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis.
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis usually begins with a physician taking the patient's medical history and completing a physical examination. If MS is suspected, the physician may recommend:
- Blood tests: Blood tests completed by a laboratory can help to rule out other conditions that cause symptoms similar to Multiple Sclerosis, such as inflammatory diseases or infections.
- Lumbar puncture: This is also sometimes called a spinal tap. A small amount of fluid is removed from around the spinal column and is sent to the lab for analysis. This can also help rule out other conditions and it can also detect abnormalities in cells that are related to Multiple Sclerosis.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: (MRI): This study can show areas of the spinal cord and brain which has been damaged by multiple sclerosis. Sometimes a special dye is injected into the vein to help the doctor tell if MS is currently active.
In the vast majority with remitting and relapsing Multiple Sclerosis, the analysis is genuinely direct and based on a variety of symptoms normally found with the disease and is affirmed by brain imaging scans such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI.
Diagnosing MS can be more troublesome in people with abnormal side effects or dynamic ailment. In these cases, additional testing with the spinal fluid examination, evoked possibilities, and extra imaging might be required.
Evoked potential tests
These tests may use electrical or visual stimuli to measure how quickly information is communicated between your nerve pathways. They are useful in the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and also in follow-up testing to determine if treatment is effective.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis has no cure. Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis focuses on recovering from attacks quickly, management of the symptoms and slowing down the progression of the disorder. In some cases, the symptoms of the disease are very mild so Multiple Sclerosis treatments are not required.
Treatments for attacks
- Corticosteroids: This treatment for Multiple Sclerosis may include oral medications like prednisone or intravenous drugs such as methylprednisolone, which is given to decrease inflammation of the nerves in relapses of Multiple Sclerosis. Corticosteroids can have severe side effects and short-term therapy is usually recommended. Common side effects include fluid retention, insomnia, mood swings and increased blood pressure.
- Plasmapheresis: This treatment for Multiple Sclerosis is also known as plasma exchange and it used to treat patients whose symptoms are severe and have not responded to steroids. This therapy involves separating the blood cells from the plasma, or liquid part of the blood. The blood cells are treated with a protein (albumin) mixture and re-infused.
Treatments to modify progression
There is no treatment for Multiple Sclerosis to slow down the course of primary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis, but for relapsing-remitting MS, some drugs have been shown to lower the rate of relapse and to decrease the rate at which new symptoms form.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis include:
- Beta interferons: These drugs are given by injection into a muscle or under the skin. They can cause problems in the liver so liver function tests need to be monitored when treated with these medications. Side effects include reactions at the injection site and flu-like symptoms.
- Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone): This drug may assist in blocking the body's immune system response to myelin. It is given by injection and a potential side effect is irritation of the skin at the injection site.
- Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera): This is an oral drug that is given twice daily to decrease Multiple Sclerosis relapses. Side effects may include a reduced white blood cell count, flushing, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Fingolimod (Gilenya): This is an oral drug that is given once daily to decrease Multiple Sclerosis relapses. This drug may slow the heart rate significantly, so patients are closely monitored after the first dose. Other side effects include blurred vision and hypertension.
- Teriflunomide (Aubagio): This is a drug that is taken once daily to reduce the relapse rate of Multiple Sclerosis. It can cause hair loss, liver dysfunction, and other side effects and cannot be used during pregnancy.
- Natalizumab (Tysabri): This drug protects the spinal cord and brain from the attacking immune cells that are traveling in the bloodstream. People who take this drug for Multiple Sclerosis are at increased risk for progressive multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, which is an infection of the brain caused by a virus. This medication is usually only used in patients with severe multiple sclerosis or in patients who have failed to respond to other treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.
- Mitoxantrone (Novantrone): This drug is also reserved for patients with advanced Multiple Sclerosis. It is an immunosuppressant and it has been linked to an increased risk for blood cancers and it can cause heart complications.
Treatments for signs and symptoms
- Physical and occupational therapy: Trained therapists can help patients learn to strengthen and stretching exercises, provide instructions in the use of assistive equipment and devices and assist in making the home environment safer and more convenient. They can also teach the patient energy conservation techniques and serve as Multiple Sclerosis treatments.
- Muscle relaxants: Painful muscle spasms and muscle stiffness are a frequent symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Physicians often recommend muscle relaxants to help control these symptoms. Examples of muscle relaxants include tizanidine and baclofen.
- Other medications: Other medications of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis that may be recommended by a physician include antidepressants, analgesics, and medications that can help with problems associated with the bowels or the bladder related to multiple sclerosis.
Living with MS
To help you manage the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis try these other treatments for multiple sclerosis:
- Get plenty of rest: Your body needs time to rest. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Take naps during the day if you feel tired.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help people with mild to moderate Multiple Sclerosis improve their coordination and balance, muscle tone and strength. Water exercises and swimming may be good options if you have problems walking or if the heat bothers you. Other types of activities recommended for Multiple Sclerosis include stretching, walking, stationary biking, yoga, low-impact aerobics, or tai chi.
- Keep cool: The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are often worse when the temperature of the body increases. Avoid heat exposure. Cooling vests or scarves may help your symptoms and serve as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.
- Eat a well-balanced diet: A balanced diet is a good idea for anyone; not just for those who have Multiple Sclerosis. Some studies have suggested that diets low in saturated fats and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oils and olive oils, may be beneficial for MS. More research is needed. It has also been suggested that vitamin D could benefit people with Multiple Sclerosis.
- Lower your stress: Find ways to cope with your stress because increased and unmanaged stress can make your symptoms worse. Consider trying yoga, massage, tai chi, deep breathing or meditation as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.
Coping and support
Other ways to manage the stress of living with Multiple Sclerosis you may find helpful for treatment for Multiple Sclerosis include:
- Try to keep doing your normal daily activities, as much as possible.
- Maintain your relationships with close friends and your family.
- Pursue hobbies you enjoy.
- Consider joining a support group, for you or for members of your family.
- Talk about your concerns and feelings with a counselor or with your doctor.