There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are more than a dozen treatment options that aid in reducing the severity of the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated chronic disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.
In MS, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the protective sheath covering nerve fibers, in the CNS. Damaged or destroyed areas on the myelin or nerve fibers cause a variety of neurological symptoms.
The cause of MS is unknown, but it is thought to have a genetic component, as well as abnormalities in the immune system and environmental factors that could trigger the disease. Risk factors for the development of MS include gender, genetics, age, geography, and ethnic background.
MS is at least 2 to 3 times more common in women than men. This suggests that hormones play a significant role in susceptibility to MS.
Most patients are diagnosed between 20 and 50 years old; however, MS has been in seen in young children and older adults. MS is more common in areas farthest from the equator.
The symptoms of MS vary greatly among patients in type and severity and can be categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary. MS is very difficult to diagnose because of the broad scope of symptoms and there is not a definite diagnostic tool.
Some common primary symptoms include:
- numbness or tingling of the face/body/extremities
- dizziness and vertigo
- sexual problems
- emotional changes
- walking difficulties
- vision problems
- bowel and bladder problems
- cognitive changes
Numbness or tingling is often the first symptom experienced by those who are eventually diagnosed with MS.
Primary symptoms can develop into secondary symptoms if not treated properly. For example, bladder dysfunction can lead to urinary tract infections and immobility can lead to pressure sores.
Tertiary symptoms are “trickle down” effects, meaning the symptoms affect an individual’s social, vocational, and psychological state. For example, a patient may be no longer able to walk or drive and cannot work anymore.
|Read on: Multiple Sclerosis: The Central Nervous System Destroyer|