Multiple Sclerosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

An autoimmune disease that impacts human central nervous system is Multiple Sclerosis. The disease can lesion your central nervous system permanently. It is one of those chronic diseases which impact the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The most perilous verity about this disease, it is impossible to know its progress. Multiple Sclerosis is incurable disease and therapies only can detract symptoms.

In Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged. The report says, around 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with MS. Multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause a wide range of symptoms and can affect any part of the body. Each person with the condition is affected differently.

Read more – Nervous system in detail

It affects people between ages 15 to 60 years and seldom found in children and teens. In children and teens symptoms, causes and treatments for MS are analogous to adults omitting some such as seizures and/or mental status changes.

Common symptoms

Since this disease is affixed to the nervous system, its symptoms vary with the nerve lesion. The symptoms may vary on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected.

  • Fatigue and headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Itching
  • Respiratory or breathing problems
  • Double vision or loss of vision in some cases
  • Numbness
  • Twitching, tingling or weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Dizziness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pregnancy problems
  • Urinary retention
  • Slurred speech
  • Painful involuntary muscle contractions
  • The difficulty with coordination and balance body
  • Tremor
  • A difficulty with thinking and memory
  • Sexual problems in both the genders

It is commonly found that people with this disease often investigated intermittent attacks and last for days or months. Some people’s symptoms develop and worsen steadily over time, while for others they come and go. Periods, when symptoms get worse, are known as “relapses”. Periods, when symptoms improve or disappear, are known as “remissions”.

Read more about – Immune system of our body

Multiple sclerosis is though incurable, a person can live a normal life. In some cases when a patient does not get treatment may lead to mobility dysfunction and those who are going through its severe of a kind may suffer from an ailment like pneumonia. Research is still in process to find new medications or other therapies to prevent this disease. Simultaneously, they are sedulous to find potential causes of it.

These were the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis later this write-up series will come up with its causes, types, treatment, diagnosis, and prevention. There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms (1).

How common is MS?

1. Multiple sclerosis occurs predominantly in younger persons, with those aged 15 to 60 most likely to be diagnosed.

2. The average age of diagnosis is about 30 years; however, multiple sclerosis has been identified at all ages.

3. While multiple sclerosis can occur in children, this is very rare.

4. About 2.5 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS; of those, about 400,000 live in the United States.

5. Women are about twice as likely as men to develop multiple sclerosis.

Risk factors for MS

  • Age: It occurs in every age group of people but the most common group is 15 to 60 years.
  • Sex: Sex hormones can impact and be impacted by the immune system. It is discovered that women are more than twice as men likely to have MS.
  • Family history: It is not hereditary. But the risk factors could be investigated in your genes. If any of your blood relatives have this disease then you are more likely to have this.
  • Virus: Though researchers are still not sure about the viruses linked to MS but viruses that cause infections like mononucleosis and varicella zoster can be linked.
  • Environmental factors: People live away from the equator are at high risk of MS. Moreover, white people are also at high risk.
  • Smoking: Smokers are more prone to develop relapsing-remitting kind of MS than non-smokers. Smokers can lower its intensity by quit smoking.
  • Underlying autoimmune diseases: People those who are already underlying diseases such as thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to get MS.
  • Vitamin D: Human body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight and it helps to prevent many immune-related diseases.

There is still a debate amongst scientists about the causes of MS. Above are some possible risk factors mentioned in the research made to date. Researchers have also cleared that allergies, artificial sweeteners, pets, and exposure to heavy metals are not causes of MS.

Types of Multiple Sclerosis

There are four types of Multiple Sclerosis as follows-

  1. Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS)

RRMS is one of the common types of MS. Symptoms in this type of MS respond to treatment and can also be resolved. It may last for weeks to years. With RRMS, the disease does not progress between relapses.

2. Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)

Oftentimes, it is diagnosed in patients who were initially gone through RRMS. Progressive debility is identified in this particular kind of MS. Around 50 percent of people with RRMS develop SPMS within 10 years, and nearly 90 percent do so after 25 years.

3. Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)

As per its name, it progresses over time without resolving symptoms. This type of MS is less common, accounting for about 10 to 15 percent of all cases. There may be temporary, minor improvements to the symptoms during progression, but there are no relapses.

4. Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS)

In this type, patients diagnosed with intense symptoms over time and intermittent episodes of remission.

Diagnosis

Physician follows the usual process of knowing a patient’s medical history and symptoms. Later, he would carry out the physical examination and several tests since no single test can adjudge this disease as its symptoms are similar to other nerve disorders.

If your doctor is not a specialist and discovers any possibility of getting MS, he will want you to see the neurologist (the brain and nervous system specialist). Further, specialists again may try to learn your medical history to check possible damage in your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Following are the tests your neurologist may ask you to go through;

  • Blood tests
  • To check your nerves functioning will examine your balance, coordination, visual changes if any and other functions.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) since, people with MS have particular proteins in their CSF.
  • To gauge the electrical activity in your brain they will carry tests called evoked potentials.

There are treatments like plasma exchange, Vitamin D and Omega-3 supplements and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. But these are all unproven treatments.

Treatment

MS is an incurable disease right now. But its symptoms can be treated and relieved in its initial phase. Therefore, a physician has to go through all the medical history to know the kind of MS one is suffering from.

Novel researchers are giving doctors more options not only to learn about the causes and earliest diagnosis but to make patients life bit easier through therapies.

The doctor may prescribe drugs that would tranquilize disease severity, prevent or treat seizures, comfort your symptoms or assist you to overcome stress which occurs after learning about this condition.

During this phase of treatment, rehabilitation works as a mainstay for MS patients. They need it along with the treatment to battle against the MS. It includes

Physical therapy: Here a therapist can teach you physical exercises that will help you maintain strength and balance, manage fatigue and pain. Yoga would also work best to relieve stress.

Occupational Therapy: Therapist would teach you to take care of yourself at your workplace. Those activities would be helpful to increase development and inhibit disability.

Emotion-focused therapy: It is important to take care of emotions once diagnosed with MS. Consult your doctor, counselor, friends or family for emotional help if you feel anxiety or stress. Talk to people who live with MS on support groups.

Vocational rehabilitation: It helps people with disability to get ready for the job, seek a job and keep up with it.

Speech and swallowing therapy: If you find any difficulty in speaking or swallowing, contact a speech and language specialist to carry out special training.

Cognitive rehabilitation: You may go through such problems related to your thinking or perceptions that may due to the lesion to your nervous system or due to stress. Here you will get help to manage this problem.

A well-balanced diet, low in empty calories and high in nutrients and fiber, will help you manage your overall health. Regular exercise is important for physical and mental health, even if you have disabilities. MS is a lifelong condition. You should focus on communicating concerns with your doctor.

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