Multiple Sclerosis – An Autoimmune Disease Of the Central Nervous System
If you are wondering what multiple sclerosis is, it is an autoimmune disease where the immune system of the body attacks its central nervous system. In this condition, the immune system attacks and damages or even destroys the myelin, which is a substance that surrounds and insulates the nerves. The destruction causes either a distortion or an interruption in the impulses of the nerves that travel to and from the brain. The onset of multiple sclerosis can give rise to a variety of symptoms.
― Nancy J. Holland
Who Can Be Affected By Multiple Sclerosis?
Approximately 2.3 million people suffer from the problem of multiple sclerosis globally. Most of the people affected by this condition are in the age group of 20-50. Multiple sclerosis can also affect children and the elderly.
Multiple sclerosis is more common among women than men. The onset of the condition among women begins before menopause, giving an indicator that hormones could be playing an important role in the development of this condition.
Multiple sclerosis in men is usually more severe than it is in women. Men generally develop the condition in their 30s and 40s, just when their testosterone levels begin declining. People who smoke are likelier to develop multiple sclerosis, which also progresses faster than among other people. This condition is more prevalent among Caucasians than people of other ethnicities. It also has a genetic component.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
The precise causes of multiple sclerosis haven’t been identified to date. However, it is believed that a combination of immunologic, infectious, environmental and genetic factors could be involved. Research is currently ongoing on the possible role of viruses as a cause of multiple sclerosis. Still, no evidence for the same has been identified. Researchers are applying different scientific disciplines to find what causes multiple sclerosis. People living far away from the equator are believed to be susceptible to multiple sclerosis, an unusual finding that has emerged. It gives a possible connection between this condition and the deficiency of vitamin D.
Can Multiple Sclerosis Be Inherited?
Multiple Sclerosis is not a hereditary condition. However, genetic factors are believed to play a role. Within the United States, the chances of an individual developing multiple services one in 750. The risks increase by about 5% when the individual has a first-degree relative. An identical twin with multiple sclerosis has a 25% possibility of being diagnosed with the disorder.
It is believed that external triggers exist and genetics only have a small role to play to make certain people susceptible to the condition of multiple sclerosis. This is the reason why this condition is not considered hereditary. Genetic factors may play a role in the development of the condition, but there is a widespread belief that an additional external trigger can make it happen.
Different Types Of Multiple Sclerosis
There are four different types of multiple sclerosis. Every type can have symptoms that range from mild to severe. The various types of multiple sclerosis can assist in predicting the course of the condition and the response of the patient to the treatment. The four types of multiple sclerosis are:
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
- Primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
- Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
- Progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis.
Patients suffering from any of these conditions can suffer from problems such as numbness, fatigue, vision problems, muscle spasms and stiffness, problems with bladder and bowel function, and cognitive difficulties.
The Diagnosis Of Multiple Sclerosis
It is often difficult to diagnose multiple sclerosis because the symptoms are different and can resemble those of other diseases. Therefore, diagnosing multiple sclerosis may take months and even years. A physician will be required to conduct an entire history and a neurological exam along with tests to evaluate a number of conditions.
The Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Different methods are used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. These include modifying the disease by prescribing several drugs to reduce the severity and the frequency of the relapses, managing the symptoms, providing emotional support, and directing exacerbations with corticosteroids that are highly potent.
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