Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system in which your body’s immune system reacts abnormally against the protective covering (myelin sheath) around the nerves present in your brain and spinal cord, Due to which, the nerves are unable to send signals to the rest of the body, and so affecting communication between the brain, spinal cord, and the body. Due to varying amounts of destruction, the symptoms can range from paraesthesias (pin-like sensations) to paralysis. . It is a chronic illness characterized by acute attacks of neurological symptoms that are months or years apart and affects different parts of the body resulting in physical and mental disability. The actual cause of the disease is unknown, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to play a role. Environmental factors such as smoking, viral infection, low Vitamin D levels can trigger a reaction in genetically susceptible patients.Multiple sclerosis is incurable. It is managed by controlling the acute symptoms and preventing further episodes.
The exact cause of the disease is unknown; however, it is thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Your immune system is programmed to attack the bacteria, viruses, and foreign cells; however, in some people, triggers such as viral infection, smoking, low levels of Vit D can disturb the immune system, which then starts a series of inflammatory reactions and cause damage to the myelin sheath which is a protective covering around your nerves of the brain and spinal cord.
The disease is classified into various types depending upon the appearance of symptoms, remissions, progression. These types are important to predict future episodes and even guide the treatment.
According to Medscape, MS affects around 2.1 million people across the world. Some geographical and racial factors may affect the prevalence of MS; for instance, it is found more in the southern and northern poles than in the equatorial regions. It is more prevalent in females and affects ages between 15-45 years. The peak ages for diagnosis are 29 years for females and 31 years for males.
Certain factors put you at high risk of inflammation.
The episodes of MS cause symptoms related to the nervous system. The episodes are accompanied by periods of remission, which vary in every individual. In each episode, a person may experience different symptoms; for example, If a person had problems in the eye in one episode, he may have symptoms related to the leg in the next episode that occurs after the remission.The different possible symptoms can be:
The specific pattern of signs and symptoms is sufficient for diagnosis; however, your doctor may advise some tests to confirm the diagnosis in complex cases or rule out other possible disorders.MRI: MRI scan is the most common investigation ordered. It can show specific lesions of demyelination in the brain. You may be given an injection in the vein of the contrast agent that will further highlight the findings.Lumbar Puncture: is the procedure in which fluid in your brain and spinal cord, called cerebrospinal fluid, is taken out by a needle inserted in your vertebral column. It may show specific findings of MS, like oligoclonal bands, which are proteins of inflammation. Evoked Potentials: in this test, visual or electrical stimuli are given, and the activity of signals in your nerves is measured using special devices. In MS, the activity is slowed down or absent.
Some other disorders may produce signs and symptoms similar to that of MS;
Although there is no complete cure for MS, many medicines have been used to modify the immune reactions to prevent progression and treat acute symptoms.
Acute Attacks: acute attacks are treated by giving injections of high-dose steroids (prednisolone). If steroids are contraindicated or not effective, then plasmapheresis can be used. Plasmapheresis is a procedure in which the diseased part of your blood is removed and filtered using special devices and then returned to the bodyDisease-Modifying Treatments:
Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong disease accompanied by relapses and remissions. Some people have a slow course, while in others, the condition is intense and progressive and may result in severe disabilities like paralysis, particularly of legs, losing bladder and bowel control, depression and mood changes, sexual problems, etc. Earlier, the diagnosis is made, the treatment is started, so better outcomes are possible.
The disease progression and severity can be controlled by adopting some changes in lifestyle like;
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 25, 2023.
Multiple Sclerosis | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (nih.gov)
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis: A Review - ScienceDirect