Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a long-lasting condition of the central nervous system. More specifically, it usually affects the brain and spinal cord, though it can also damage the optic nerves. MS causes the immune system to attack myelin, the protective material surrounding the nerve fibers. Without this outer covering, the nerves are far more likely to become damaged. As a result, the brain is unable to correctly send signals throughout the body. No one knows for certain what causes MS.

What are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Everyone who is affected by the disease experiences it differently. Some will have a mild case that does not require treatment, while others will face difficulty doing simple daily tasks.

Symptoms include

  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Depression
  • Impaired bowel or bladder control
  • Problems remembering or focusing
  • Sexual difficulty

Symptoms tend to first appear between the ages of 20 and 40. For some, the disease progresses over time. Others have attacks where the MS suddenly becomes distinctly worse. These relapses are often followed by recovery periods in which symptoms improve.

Multiple Sclerosis Causes

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) remains unknown to scientists and researchers. It is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the body’s immune system determines a helpful substance to be harmful. A combination of genetics and environmental factors cause it to happen. Someone with a family history of MS is more likely to develop the disease. In rare cases, the condition is caused by a genetic mutation trigger by some kind of health issue, such as cigarette smoking or a deficiency in a necessary vitamin.

When the immune system malfunctions, as it does with MS, it causes demyelination. In other words, the immune system attacks the body’s myelin, a substance that is extremely important to the proper functioning of the body. Myelin is similar to the protective insulation coat on electrical wires. It is a fatty substance that protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. When the myelin is damaged, the messages which travel along the nerve endings – as well as the nerve endings – become vulnerable to malfunction.

White women between the ages of 15 and 60 are the demographic most susceptible to multiple sclerosis (MS).

How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated?

Right now there is no cure for MS, however, a number of effective treatments exist to help patients feel better and improve bodily functions.

Treatments include

Drugs can also be prescribed to slow the progression of MS, treat or prevent attacks, relieve symptoms, and manages the stress. Steroids can shorten MS attacks or cut down on their severity. Muscle relaxants, Botox, and tranquilizers may be used for treating muscle spasms and other symptoms. Physical therapy helps patients regain balance and muscle strength, while occupational therapy can teach them other ways to take care of themselves and keep up with the job. Some people may require a walker, cane, or braces to assist with walking.

Multiple Sclerosis Prevention

For the most part, there is no method of prevention against multiple sclerosis. For certain types of MS, such as relapsing multiple sclerosis, prevention of episodes is possible. Additionally, research is finding new ways of preventing the condition. Certain medicines, such as Mavenclad, can prevent the onset of episodes. These medicines are new, but offer the ability to renew and rebuild the immune system.

Additionally, certain diet and lifestyle changes can prevent episodes of multiple sclerosis. An anti-inflammatory diet containing high amounts of vitamin D and resveratrol, a compound in red wine, can potentially offset episodes of relapsing MS. Furthermore, cigarette smoking can not only trigger the development of the disease, but it can also cause it to progress at a more rapid pace. Reducing one’s risk factors cannot absolutely guard against the disease, but it can help decrease a person’s susceptibility to it.