Introduction to Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness which involves central nervous system influencing brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in eyes. The immune system damages myelin, which is the protective layer around nerve fibres. This causes lesions and can make it hard for the brain to send signals to the rest of the body which triggers problems with vision, stability, muscle control, and other essential body functions.
The effects are often distinct for everyone with the disease. Some individuals have moderate symptoms and do not need treatment. Others will have difficulty getting over and doing daily tasks. MS is the most widespread neurological condition disabling young adults globally and is more common in women than men. Canadians have the highest rate of MS in the world. It tends to be lower in places that are closer to the latitude like sunlight.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
People with MS experience a wide range of symptoms. Nerves do not work as they should to help the person move and feel. The initial symptoms often start among ages 20 and 40. Most people have relapses when the condition gets markedly worse. Due to the type of the disease, symptoms can vary broadly from person to person.
- Difficulty in walking due to numbness in legs, balancing issues, muscle weakness and spasticity. It can also lead to injuries due to falling.
- Fatigue, affecting the ability to work and perform everyday tasks.
- Muscle weakness or stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Numbness and tingling
- Sexual problems
- Poor bladder or bowel control
- Problems focusing
- Cognitive issues
- Speech disorders
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS): It is a pre-MS condition involve symptoms lasting for 24 hours at least. This episode is characteristic of MS.
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): It is the most common form of MS among all cases which involves relapses of disease followed by remissions, and there is no disease progression.
- Primary Progressive MS (PPMS): It involves worsening of neurological function from the onset of symptoms. Though, short periods of stability can occur.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): It occurs when RRMS changes into the progressive form. Relapses are also present.
Life Expectancy of Multiple Sclerosis
People with MS live about 7.5 years shorter than expected. It is almost difficult to expect disease progression. About 10 per cent of individuals with MS have only attacks and slight disability 10 years after diagnosis and is generally believed that they are not on treatment. This is a benign MS. Most of them are not brutally disabled and continue to lead full lives.
Complications of Multiple Sclerosis
The complications MS causes can appear anywhere and may affect any part of the body. If having mobility issues, falling may put a person at an increased risk for bone fractures. Fatigue and mobility issues may also affect sexual function.
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
Research study shows that it could be an environmental trigger, such as a virus or toxin, that attacks the immune system. Cause of disease is unknown, but several things seem to make the disease more likely.
- People with certain genes may have higher chances of getting it.
- Smoking increases risk.
- MS isn’t hereditary but having a parent with MS increases the risk
- Some people get MS after they had a viral infection which makes their immune system weak. The infection may trigger the disease and cause relapses.
It can be difficult to diagnose MS, because of its symptoms which are similar to many other nerve disorders. There is no single specific test that can confirm the diagnosis therefore several tests take place which may include:
- Blood tests to rule out diseases like AIDS.
- Balance and coordination test
- Analysis of the brain fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
- Evoked tests that measure the electrical activity of the brain.
- OCT (Optical coherence tomography) to detect changes in the retina
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) which can assess thinning of the optic nerve.
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to rule out infectious diseases
- Visual evoked potentials (VEP) test to analyze electrical activity in the brain.
Most people with MS find ways to manage their symptoms and perform well through prescribed Medications, diet, and exercise. Diet and exercise are important for physical and mental health. If physical movement is difficult, swimming can help out. Moreover, Some programs are intended just for people with MS. A well-balanced diet, low in calories and high in nutrients, will help to manage overall health. Diet should consist of:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Sources of protein, such as fish
- whole grains and fibre
- low-fat dairy products
- Adequate amounts of fluids
An individual with MS should avoid:
- Red meat
- Saturated fat
- Food and beverages
- High sodium
- Highly processed foods
Other therapies that help in relaxing and reducing stress:
- Music therapy
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
- There is no cure for MS, but several treatments can improve how the patient feels and keep the body working well which can alleviate MS symptoms and delay disease progression. No remedy is presently available for MS, but multiple treatment options exist.
- Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that are designed to slow disease progression and reduce relapse level. Several drugs show effective result but are not appropriate for every person.
- Other treatments may also relieve symptoms and enhances the quality of life. Because MS is different for everyone, hence treatment depends on specific symptoms.
- Several drugs are prescribed that slow down the progression of the disease, prevent attacks, ease symptoms, or help to manage the stress that is associated with the condition.
- Other drugs, like muscle relaxants, tranquillizers, or botulinum toxin (Botox), to ease muscle spasms and treat some of the other symptoms.
- A physical therapist can teach exercises that will keep up strength, balance, and help in managing fatigue and pain.
- Occupational therapy can provide new ways to do specific tasks to make it easier to work. If a person having trouble getting around, a cane, walker, or braces can help them to walk more easily.
- Along with treatment, other things are also essential to ease MS symptoms which may include:
- Regular exercise
- Avoid too much heat to boost energy.
- Yoga to ease fatigue or stress.
Quality of life with MS depends on symptoms and how well an individual responds to treatment. It is rarely lethal, but unstable disease and can change path without warning.