What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that can affect the brain, optic nerves, spinal cord, and the central nervous system. That can lead to many symptoms that can affect the entire body. It is a long-lasting disease and can affect the basic body functions like balance, muscle control, and vision too. The different types of multiple sclerosis are:
- Relapsing-remitting MS, RRMS: Most common form of this disease.
- Secondary progressive MS, SPMS: The symptoms worsen with time, and people transition from RRMS to SPMS.
- Primary progressive MS, PPMS: Least common type and has symptoms that progress slowly.
- Progressive-Relapsing MS, PRMS: Another rare form and the condition steadily worsens sometimes with no recovery.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system and hence can affect any part of the body. Some of the common symptoms are:
- The weakness of the muscles which happens due to nerve damage.
- Pins and needle sensation that can happen to the legs, arms, face, or body.
- Can experience an electric shock-like sensation while moving the neck.
- Frequent urination or incontinence.
- Constipation and other bowel problems
- Balance and coordination issues along with dizziness and vertigo.
- Painful muscle spasms due to damage of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
- Vision problems due to optic nerve inflammation.
- Memory and learning problems
- Changes in gait
- Can trigger emotional changes and also depression
- Neuropathic pain due to weakness of the muscles.
Who is at Risk?
Multiple sclerosis risk factors are:
- People in the age of 20 and 40 years are often diagnosed with this condition.
- Women are more likely to get affected by most forms of MS than men.
- People with a genetic predisposition have a high likelihood of developing MS.
- People who smoke have more brain shrinkage and lesions and hence can lead to MS.
- People who are exposed to viruses like Epstein Barr or mononucleosis are at risk of MS.
- People who are Vitamin D, B12 deficient are at an increased risk of MS.
- People who follow an unhealthy diet of high salt and high sugar food are likely to develop MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Causes
The causes of multiple sclerosis are still not fully understood. But as per research, it can be caused by:
- The immune system which for some reason starts to attack the body. Hence it is considered an auto-immune disorder. In this case, the myelin which covers the nerve fibres gets damaged and hence the nerve is unable to send or receive messages.
- Autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease, etc can cause MS.
- It is caused in specific groups like Northern Europe as they live in cooler climates.
- Lack of Vitamin D in the body raises the chances of MS.
- Smokers with a clinically isolated syndrome are the first instance of MS symptoms and can be one of the reasons for multiple sclerosis further episodes.
How is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?
There is no single test that can prove or confirm a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. A multiple sclerosis doctor will use many tests to diagnose this condition. A neurological and physical examination will be done by the doctor. The symptoms and the medical history is made note of before tests are ordered. Some of the diagnostics performed are:
- MRI of the spinal cord and the brain which can show lesions if present.
- The spinal fluid sample is taken to check for antibodies present from previous infections.
- Electrical activity is measured using the evoked potential test.
Further tests may be needed to identify the type and whether it is active or not.
How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated?
There is no multiple sclerosis cure but treatment helps in managing the symptoms better.
- If you have a type of MS that flares up, the doctor uses medicine for multiple sclerosis called a disease-modifying drug to slow the progression and prevent flare-ups.
- Medications are given to prevent the immune system from attacking the myelin coating that is around the nerves.
- Behavioural therapies are conducted to ensure that people pace themselves and prevent fatigue.
- Physical therapy and walk devices may be advised to help with mobility issues.
- Alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage, etc are provided to provide relief from symptoms of pain and inflammation.
Consult our neurologist at carefit to get a proper diagnosis and multiple sclerosis treatment.
How can Multiple Sclerosis be Prevented?
Doctors and researchers have not been able to develop a cure for MS as it is not fully understood. But potential prevention of multiple sclerosis include
- Getting enough Vitamin D may prevent it, as it is believed to influence the development of it.
- A healthy diet and even intermittent fasting are known to have many benefits and prevent relapsing-remitting MS.
- Avoiding smoking can reduce the risk of developing MS as it can trigger the symptoms.