Multiple Sclerosis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system- a potentially disabling disease of the spinal cord and the brain. Inside the brain, nerve fibers are present that are protected with a myelin sheath that acts as a protective layer. In multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath is damaged, which leads to a communication problem between your brain and the rest of the body. By the time the disease can cause permanent damage to the nerves leading to adverse signs and symptoms. 


The signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary from person to person. One person with it may be able to walk independently while the other maybe not. It happens because the amount of nerve damage is not the same in each person. The amount and area of nerve damage is an essential tool that decides the severity of the symptoms. Severe symptoms of multiple sclerosis may occur if the damage is more, and they may remain mild if the damage is less. Until now, there is no such treatment for multiple sclerosis that can reverse the condition. However, it can be managed symptomatically. 


Symptoms 


The signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis may differ from person to person. They depend upon the area and amount of nerve damage. It may show up as;


  • Weakness or numbness of one side of the body 

  • Feeling of an electric shock while making a certain movement, especially moving the neck- Lhermitte sign

  • Tremors

  • Lack of coordination 

  • Unsteady gait

  • Fatigue 

  • Difficulty walking due to numbness in feet, muscle weakness, difficulty balancing yourself, muscle rigidity 

  • Partial or complete loss of vision accompanied with pain in eye movement, generally in one eye

  • Blurry vision 

  • Double vision for a long time

  • Dizziness 

  • Slurred speech 

  • Tingling or loss of sensation in the whole body or a part of it

  • Problems with bowel and bladder functions 

  • Difficulty in sexual function



Causes 


The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. According to experts, it is an autoimmune disease which means your body destroys its own organ or tissue due to hyperactivity of the immune system. It destroys myelin sheath- a fatty tissue layer over the nerves that protects them in the brain and the spinal cord. It acts as an insulation that protects the nerves from shock. It can be explained with the example of electrical wires. Imagine many wires going together without a covering or insulation. It will eventually result in an electric shock. Therefore, many nerves, when travel together, need protective layering to function well. If they are damaged, the nerve impulses are either slowed down or blocked. The risk factors are unclear. But genetics may play a role in it.


Risk factors


The risk factors for multiple sclerosis can be;


  • Age between 20 to 40 years

  • Female gender

  • Family history of multiple sclerosis 

  • Infections like that of Epstein-Barr virus 

  • A region with a temperate climate

  • Low levels of vitamin D and little exposure to sunlight 

  • Having other autoimmune disease like diabetes, thyroiditis, pernicious anemia, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis 

  • Smoking 


Complications 


Multiple sclerosis can lead to further complications like;


  • Problems with bladder and bowel 

  • Problems with sexual function

  • Mental changes

  • Forgetfulness

  • Mood swings

  • Muscle spasms

  • Paralysis of the legs

  • Depression

  • Epilepsy


Conclusion 


Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system- a potentially disabling disease of the spinal cord and the brain. The signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis may differ from person to person. They depend upon the area and amount of nerve damage. The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are difficulty walking and debilitating fatigue. If you are diagnosed with it, you must attend follow-up visits with the healthcare provider.


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