Multiple Sclerosis: All You Need To Know
Posted On: February 02, 2020
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that normally affects the central nervous system especially the spinal cord and brain. The long-lasting disease can cause problems with muscle control and visual balance. It was in 1868 when a French neurologist discovered multiple sclerosis. Jean-Martin Charcot recognized this condition after numerous attempts.
He made the distinction between the tremor of paralysis that would later be named Parkinson disease and that of multiple sclerosis. Injection of malaria parasites is one of the ineffective and dangerous therapies that have been used over the years to treat MS. There are 18 long term treatments that have been approved for relapsing different forms of MS.
The effects are often different for everyone who has the disease. How does this condition occur? MS happens when your immune system attack a fatty material called myelin. The main role of this tissue is to protect the nerve fibers. Your cells will get damaged without this outer shell.
Your brain will not be able to send signals when myelin is damaged. In this article, we have compiled the most relevant details about multiple sclerosis.
Types of multiple sclerosis
Do you know that there are four types of MS? Doctors can easily recommend the best treatment when they know the specific type of multiple sclerosis. The symptoms progress differently for each type. While some types of multiple sclerosis involve long periods of remission, others will not.
The outlook is different depending on the type. Here are the four types of multiple sclerosis.
- Clinically isolated syndrome – It is the first type of multiple sclerosis. You might be aware that this condition is a single episode of neurologic symptoms that mostly last for about 24 hours. It is good to keep in mind that symptoms are not limited to fever or other common infections. The most common symptom is inflammation of the nervous system
You might not experience other episodes if you are suffering from the clinically isolated syndrome. In most cases, it is the first MS attack. There are greater chances of having another episode if the MRI detects the brain lesions. In case the MRI detects older lesion in your central nervous system, then you might be diagnosed with MS.
That means that you had a previous attack in the past even if you were not aware of it. In addition, some medical experts diagnose MS if the cerebrospinal fluid contains a high amount of oligoclonal bands.
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis – It has emerged as the most common form of MS. Several studies have shown that this condition accounts for more than 80% of initial diagnoses of MS. Usually, RRMS involves well-defined attacks of neurologic symptoms. You will experience partial or even full recovery episodes. Relapses and remissions can last for days or months.
- Primary progressive multiple sclerosis – Unlike other types of multiple sclerosis, this is less common. It accounts for about 10% of all the MS cases. With that in mind, you can agree with me that it is a rare type of MS. You will experience regular plateaus as the disease progress if you are suffering from PPMS. During the progression, there may either be temporary or minor improvements.
Doctors have been using another category to describe a form of MS that progresses from the beginning. This comes under PPMS simply because it follows a similar pattern.
- Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis – This is the next stage of the disease for people who are suffering from RRMS. People with RRMS develop this condition within 10 years. About 90% of the people develop this condition after 25 years.
In terms of symptoms, SPMS is quite similar to RRMS. The only difference is that it might not involve minor remissions and relapses. We lack a long term data to determine if the treatment significantly delays this transition.
Causes of multiple sclerosis
Numerous researchers have studied a variety of possible causes of MS. There is no doubt that multiple sclerosis is triggered by a combination of factors. The process of finding an effective mode of treatment will speed up when we understand the main causes of MS. It can cure or even prevent it from occurring in the first place. Let’s look at the factors behind multiple sclerosis.
- Obesity – Obesity in childhood increases the risk of developing MS. Other studies have shown that obesity is adulthood greatly contribute to multiple sclerosis. Away from that, it is well known to contribute to inflammation and more MS activity.
- Smoking – Reliable evidence has shown that smoking plays a great role in MS. You are in the risk of being diagnosed with MS if you smoke regularly. Can you smoke after being diagnosed with MS? It would be the worst decision ever simply because MS will progress rapidly. Therefore, you should stop smoking before or after the onset of MS. Be guaranteed that the progression of disability will be quite low.
- Vitamin D deficiency – This is the right time to increase the intake of vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels in your body will increase the chances of multiple sclerosis developing. Which is the best source of vitamin D? Regular sun exposure will greatly help to explain the north-south distribution of MS.
Do you know that people who live closer to the equator have greater amounts of sunlight all year round? As a result, they have higher levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D not only support the immune function but also play an important role in preventing immune-mediated diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
- Geographic gradient – MS occurs more frequently in areas further from the equator. Scientists who study disease patterns have been looking at variations in geography and demographics. If you are exposed to some environmental agents before puberty, you are more likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
It is quite hard to predict MS symptoms. The unpredictable symptoms vary in intensity. Kindly explore the list below to find more information about symptoms that you can experience. Most of these symptoms are managed through management strategies.
- Fatigue – This symptom occurs in about 90%. Fatigue is well known to interfere with the ability to function at home and work. In fact, fatigue is highly considered as the most prominent symptom in people with minimal activity limitations. Fatigue occurs when the nerves deteriorate in the spinal cord. Regular feelings of fatigue can last for weeks before improving. You will experience extreme weakness in the legs.
- Balance complications – Coordination and balance will decrease the mobility of someone with multiple sclerosis. Your doctor will be able to observe these complications with your gait. Besides lightheaded, you will often feel dizzy in your workplace. In most cases, this symptom will occur when you stand up.
- Bowel dysfunction – It is another popular symptom that occurs in up to 80% of people with MS. This can include frequent urination and inability to hold in urine. The best thing about these symptoms is that you can easily manage them. Although it is quite rare, you may experience constipation and diarrhea.
- Change in emotional health – Depression is one of the commonest signs you will notice in people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Change in moods and irritability are some of the stresses that will be caused by MS. You might have come across some MS patients crying or laughing uncontrollably.
Treatment of multiple sclerosis
There is currently no cure for MS but is very possible to treat symptoms with medicines and other treatments. Treatment of this condition mainly depends on the difficulties the person has. Below are the most common treatment options.
- Fingolimod – The oral medication reduces the relapse rate. In this treatment, your heart rate will be monitored for six hours. What is the main reason behind this? Your heart may be slowed immediately after the first dose. Headaches, high blood pressure and blurred infections are some of the side effects of using this treatment option.
- Siponimod – It helps in the slow progression of MS. This medication has been approved for secondary progressive MS. Liver problems and low white blood cells are possible side effects. You should not try this medication when pregnant. It is very dangerous to developing fetus.
- Plasma exchange – Plasma is separated from your blood cells. From there, the blood cells are mixed with a protein solution. This method is used when the symptoms are new and severe.
Doctors have not yet succeeded in coming up with a reliable way to prevent multiple sclerosis. The causes of this condition are yet to be identified. Genetic and environmental factors greatly contribute to the development of MS. So, how can you prevent MS? You can follow the tips below.
- Increase the intake of vitamin D
- Consume coffee regularly
- Red wine has shown anti-inflammatory effects in the brain.
As for now, there are no cures for multiple sclerosis. In addition, there are no proven ways to prevent this deadly condition. Research is still being done to understand and prevent this condition from occurring.
More information on the subject
Where you can get additional help and support