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Multiple Sclerosis Ms

What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?

About Multiple Sclerosis Ms

From the Greek word sklerosis, or hardening of tissue, multiple sclerosis refers to the scarring (gliosis) and inflammatory damage of white matter (demyelination) to the central nervous system which includes the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. Myelin is the insulating material that allows for smooth transmission of signals between nerve cells. When demyelination occurs, as is the case in MS, it essentially causes signaling between neurons to go array resulting in sensory, movement and cognitive abnormalities.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis Ms

Symptoms are neurologically related and overlap with other neurologic disorders (stroke, depression, spinal cord disorders). Symptoms include: painful visual loss in one eye, facial numbness, vertigo, electric shocks down the spine, heat intolerability, erectile dysfunction, imbalance, urgency to urinate, fatigue, burning sensation and or paralysis involving the legs more commonly than the arms. They vary from subtle to stark in intensity and can develop within hours to days and take several weeks to settle on their own. A known characteristic of MS is the cycle between a relapse of symptoms (an acute exacerbation) which is often brought on by stress, followed by a remission (recovery) of symptoms.

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis Ms

It can be hard to tell whether your symptoms might be caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) at first, as some of the symptoms can be quite vague or similar to other conditions. Diagnosing MS is complicated because no single test can positively diagnose it. Other possible causes of your symptoms may need to be ruled out first. It may also not be possible to confirm a diagnosis if you have had only 1 attack of MS-like symptoms. A diagnosis can only be made with confidence once there's evidence of at least 2 separate attacks, although this may include signs of attacks on an MRI scan that you may not realise you have had.

Causes of Multiple Sclerosis Ms

Until now, research reveals that MS is a disease of the immune system (autoimmune) where the body mistakens its own myelin producing cells (oligodendricytes) as foreign material that should be destroyed and erradicated. What ignites this autoimmune raction is unknown, but it could be multifactorial involving genetics and enviornment. A common hypothesis is that populations living furthest from the equator are prone to lower sunlight exposure and thus have lower Vitamin D levels which when mixed with a genetic mutation, can increase their risk of developing an autoimmune disease. The female sex, smoking, childhood obesity and or prior infection with Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) are other possible risk factors.

Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis Ms

Disease Modifying Treatments (DMTs) consisting of immunotherapy are used in the long run to help reduce damage to the nervous system while improve quality of life by limiting relapse episodes. Acute relapses are effectively treated with glucocorticoids. Therapy is tailored to each patient’s needs ; some in need of more occupational therapy and or physiotherapy versus others in need of more mental health services. While MS is a devastating and debilitating disease, research has come a long way to optomise treatment while minimising side effects.

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