Understanding Multiple Sclerosis
MS or Multiple Sclerosis is a medical condition that is, at this time, still beyond the control of science and technology. This autoimmune disease affects the brain and spinal cord, making the movements of the body difficult to control at times. It’s far more common for some to develop multiple sclerosis than others, given that for one reason or another they are simply more prone MS. For example, in terms of gender, it is 2-3 times more likely for a woman to develop MS than a man. Studies have shown that there are some genetic risk factors as well, but the National MS Society said that there is no definitive evidence that the disease is hereditary. Certain environmental factors can play a role in making some more prone to MS than others as well, such as cigarette smoke and low levels of Vitamin D. The symptoms of the disease can be a varied list and as such will change from person to person. While there is no cure for MS, there are multiple treatment options to help reduce the symptoms of this disease.
As the brain is responsible for controlling the entire human body, any problems in relaying its signals to the rest of the body can seriously affect the functioning of the body part for which that signal is intended. Due to this and the progress of the condition in different people, the effect of the condition will differ and show up as one set in one person, and maybe a completely different set of symptoms in another.
What is MS? Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that affects up to 350,000 people in the United States alone. Multiple sclerosis is believed to occur when the body’s immune system attacks the fatty tissues that form sheaths around nerve fibers on the central nervous system, which is comprised of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. When these fatty sheaths are broken down, the exposed nerve fibers begin growing scar tissue for protection. This scarring can cause interruptions in the signals sent back and forth between the brain and other parts of the body. The more scaring, the more problems the body has sending and receiving signals from the brain. As a result, people with multiple sclerosis ca experience a wide range of problems including fatigue, muscle spasms, loss of balance and difficulty moving.
What are the symptoms to be aware of with MS? The are several symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis, with muscle spasms one of the most common, along with difficulty in controlling his or her mouth and speech. This will result in speech impediments and problems in chewing food. Sexual problems like inability to attain erection or lack of lubrication in vagina are other possibilities. Loss of ability to solve problems, to remember things, to make the right judgment calls, to hear properly etc. are seen in some people along with problems urinating, urine leakage, frequent need of urinating, difficulty to start urinating etc. as well as constipation and inability to control the bowels. The MS patient may also have. Some MS patients are seen as depressed due to the condition, and can easily become victims of clinical depression.
MS has a wide range of effects on its sufferers. People who have multiple sclerosis may experience a combination of physical, emotional and cognitive problems. Common early signs of multiple sclerosis include numbness, blurred vision, difficulty balancing, tingling sensations or muscular weakness. More severe signs include sudden paralysis, difficulty speaking and poor coordination. Fatigue, muscle spasms, mood swings or irrational thinking can also set in for people with multiple sclerosis. While this may seem like a good collection of symptoms by which to diagnose the disorder, the truth is that most of these symptoms are more commonly associated with other types of health conditions.
Multiple sclerosis can develop in anyone, it’s not one that plays favorites. The disease has been diagnosed in both young children and the elderly, but new cases of MS have been found in people from ages 20 to 40. There are four different types of multiple sclerosis, and each type will affect people differently based on their bodies, ages, medical histories and overall health. Clinical researchers continue to learn about this complex neurological disease, but they’ve concluded that multiple sclerosis is experienced differently by each patient.
Diagnosing multiple sclerosis is difficult because at present there are no lab tests to confirm the presence of the disease. In addition, people who have multiple sclerosis don’t show any specific symptoms of their illnesses. As a result, many people may experience problems associated with multiple sclerosis for years before they are officially diagnosed by a doctor and can begin treatment.
What do doctors actually look for in diagnosing MS? When trying to diagnose multiple sclerosis, doctors look for damaged nerves and other abnormalities in the central nervous system. Damage in more than one place is a very strong indication that a person has the disease. After finding damage to the central nervous system, doctors try to eliminate any other health conditions as the cause of that damage. Doctors must also try to determine a timeframe for when the damage to the nervous system occurred - damage to different areas that occurs within the same month is generally not caused by multiple sclerosis.
How can MS be treated and what can be done to halt the slow progress of the disease? As of now, there are no proven medical treatments specifically for Multiple Sclerosis. Still, there are some medications to reduce the severity of the side effects or symptoms associated with the disease. This is given based on the particular problems faced by a person suffering from the debilitating condition. Science has still a way to go before a treatment is found to effectively tackle the root causes of the condition. Stem cell research is thought to provide a cure for the condition in the near future, and has shown some promise in related fields and studies. This is one reason why many who were affected by MS have been fighting for increased funding in stem cell research and recognition of the treatment’s potential.
To learn more about and to find more information about Multiple Sclerosis there are many resources both on the internet and in person that be of great help. Highly recommended would be the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, located on the web at www.mationalmssociety.org. Also the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at www.ninds.nih.gov/. Of course, you should consult with your physician if you are have nay of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, especially if MS runs in your family.