What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a long-term autoimmune disease that can affect the CNS ( central nervous system), i.e. the brain and the spinal cord. This disease can affect your balance, vision, muscle control and other functions of the body. The effects of this condition differ from patient to patient. Eventually, this disease can permanently damage the nerves in your body.
As mentioned above, Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness involving your central nervous system. The immune system attacks the myelin layer, a fatty substance which protects the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. This results in inflammation and scar tissue, or lesions, which can make it hard for your brain to send signals to the rest of your body.
Types of Multiple sclerosis
Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
Relapsing-remitting MS involves clear relapses of disease activity followed by remissions. During these periods, symptoms are mild or absent and there’s no disease progression. Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common form of MS at onset.
Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
The clinically isolated syndrome involves one episode of symptoms lasting at least 24 hours. These symptoms are due to demyelination in your CNS (central nervous system).
The 2 types of episodes are monofocal and multifocal. A monofocal episode means one lesion causes only one symptom. A multifocal episode means you have more than 1 lesion and more than 1 symptom.
Primary-progressive MS (PPMS)
The neurological function becomes progressively worse from the onset of your symptoms if you have Primary-progressive MS. However, short periods of stability may occur.
PRMS was a term previously used for progressive MS with clear relapses, which is now called PPMS. The terms “active” and “not active” are used to describe MS activity.
Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)
Secondary-progressive MS occurs when Relapsing-remitting MS transitions into the progressive form. You may still have easily noticeable relapses, in addition to gradual worsening of function and disability.
How does multiple sclerosis occur?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the body’s own immune system starts attacking its own tissues.
The immune system of our bodies is responsible for defending the body from foreign parts like viruses and bacteria.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system of the body starts attacking its own cells instead of defending the body.
In the case of MS, the malfunctioning immune system starts destroying myelin, which is the fatty substance which protects the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.
It is something like the insulation covering electrical cables. Once the myelin is damaged the nerves are exposed and get damaged, which in results affects the messages that travel through the nerve to the brain and back.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
The signs and symptoms of MS can vary from patient to patient. few patients show experience almost negligible symptoms, while others experience severe symptoms. The symptoms can be depending on the location of affected nerve fibers.
Few signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) include:
- Double vision
- Complete or partial loss of vision in eyes starts with one eye at a time.
- Constant fatigue
- Speech disorders
- Lack of co-ordination
- Weakness and numbness in single or more limbs of the body and also in the trunk
- Pain in parts of your body
- Tingling sensation in affected parts of your body
- Electric shock-like sensation with specific neck movements
- Slurred speech
- Disturbed bowel and bladder function
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Early signs of MS
Numbness or tingling of the arms, legs, or one side of your face. Such sensations are similar to the feeling of pins and needles you get when your foot falls asleep, but they occur for no apparent reason.
Unbalancing and weak legs. You feel yourself tripping easily while walking or doing some other type of physical activity.
Blurry vision, Double vision, or partial vision loss. These may be an early indicator of this disease. You may also feel some eye pain.
Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms you need to visit a Doctor. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, and the test results he may refer you to a neurologist.
A doctor can go for below tests:
To find out other diseases which have similar symptoms to MS.
Small sample of fluid is collected from your spinal canal for laboratory analysis.
To find out the areas that have been affected by multiple sclerosis
To record the electrical signals produced the nervous system in response to stimuli and thus measure how quickly the information travels down nerve pathways.
Complications of multiple sclerosis
The complications/ Effects of MS include:
- Paralysis especially in the legs
- Mood swings
- Muscle stiffness or spasms
- Problems with bladder, bowel or
- Sexual dysfunction
Who is on higher risk of multiple sclerosis?
People who are on more risk to multiple sclerosis include:
- Women more than men
- Individuals who are deficient in vitamin D
- A Person born in spring
- People who smoking more
- People with the age group of 15 to 50 years
- Those who have a family history of MS
- People infected with specific viral infections such as Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis
- A person suffering from thyroid disease, diabetes type 1 or inflammatory bowel disease have a slightly higher risk of multiple sclerosis
Treatment for multiple sclerosis
Medical Treatment OF Multiple Sclerosis
There is no permanent cure for multiple sclerosis; Doctor may prescribe medicines that can help you manage the symptoms of this disease. Such medicines curb the immune system and prevent flare-ups and slow down the progress of the disease.
If the symptoms are much severe, such as severe tremors, the doctor may suggest you undergo surgery which can help control the symptoms.
Dietary recommendations for people with MS
Although, Diet hasn’t been shown to directly impact the symptoms of the disease, but it can help with some of your challenges associated with a disease.
Your diet should consist of:
- A variety of vegetables or fruits
- Lean sources of protein, like fish and skinless poultry
- Whole grains and other rich sources of fiber
- Low-fat dairy products
- An adequate amount of water and other fluids
You should limit/avoid:
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
- Red meats
- Foods and beverages with high in sugar
- Foods that are high in sodium
- Highly processed foods
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Exercising is good not only for your overall health but also for managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Before you decide to start exercise, it is suggested to consult you to discuss about the types of exercise which can help in such cases.
Exercises can be very effective to prevent the advance of the disease.
- Water aerobics,
- Strength training,
- Balance training
Living with Multiple Sclerosis
Most people with this disease find ways to manage their symptoms and function well. You’ll face multiple challenges that can change over time.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat specific symptoms of MS.
This is a lifelong condition. You should focus on communicating with your doctor, learning all you can about MS, and discovering what makes you feel better.
A well-balanced diet, low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber, can help you manage your overall health.
The following activities may help you feel less stressed and more relaxed:
Facts about Multiple Sclerosis
- MS is the most widespread neurological condition disabling young adults overall the world.
- An estimated 4 Lakh people in the US have this disease, though this number can be higher due to longer life spans and more accurate diagnoses.
- Most affected age is between 20 to 40 years of people.
- The disease typically progresses faster in men than in women.
- Women develop MS 2 to 3 times more often than men, a difference that has grown steadily for 5 decades.
- People who relocate to a new location before age of fifteen generally on the risk factors associated with the new location.
- It’s almost impossible to predict how Multiple Sclerosis will progress in any one person.
- About 10 to 15 % of people with this disease have only rare attacks and minimal disability 10 years after diagnosis.
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