Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin, which is the outer covering of the nerves. Myelin sheath is wrapped all through the nerve fibers to protect them. The nerves get damaged if there is no more outer shell and this disturbs the normal flow of brain signal. The damage thus reduces the brain activity and the nerves cannot send proper signals all through the body. The nerves do not work properly and make you feel weak and numb. It is a long lasting disease that completely affects the brain, optic nerves in the eyes, and spinal cord. Loss of balance, loss of control in muscles, vision problems and disturbances in other body functions are the common symptoms.
The prognosis of MS varies from one person to another; and, over a period of time, MS affects the fibers of the nerve with the following symptoms:
- ·Weakness and numbness in limbs usually one side of the body
- ·Vision problems (double vision) with pain in the movement of the eyes
- ·Tingling pain in different body parts
- ·Shock sensation while moving the neck
- ·Unsteady gait and tremor, loss of speech
- ·Weakness in the muscles
- ·Poor bladder functions
- ·Sexual problems
The actual cause of this progressive neurological disorder is still unknown; and therefore, it is usually considered as an auto-immune disorder – in which body’s own immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. The role of genetics and environmental factors cannot be ignored at all. The damage caused to myelin sheath leads to the damage to nerves – as a result the messages get blocked and cause the typical symptoms. MS is common in women than in men and it begins at any age between 20 to 40 years. In some cases, the disease is mild, but many people lose the ability to read, write, walk and speak when they are affected with MS.
·Age is not a factor as anyone at any age can get affected. However, the risk increases after age 40.
·Women are at increased risk when compared to men
·Family history is a major risk factor
·Certain viruses or infections may also be responsible for MS
·MS is common in white race than black people
· More common in temperate climate like Australia, New Zealand, United States and Europe.
· Smoking is another risk factor
There is no specific test or examination to detect MS, and therefore, neuro physicians examine the patient thoroughly if they suspect any symptoms to be that of MS in the patient. A thorough physical exam, medical history, and neurological exam – in addition to some blood tests, cerebrospinal fluid analysis and MRI help diagnose the disease.
Treatment and Care
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, medication and care by the doctor and family members help improve the symptoms quite effectively. Barring these, there is no permanent cure – all these measures are employed to slow down the progression of the disease and manage the symptoms effectively.