Multiple Sclerosis

Description: Hormones, genes, and lifestyle may contribute to multiple sclerosis risk.
People may have heard of multiple sclerosis (also referred to as MS) without knowing much about it. It is a chronic disease affecting the central nervous system. The disease is indeed a cause of great concern as the central nervous system – the spinal cord and the brain – is affected. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system of one's body attacks the other body components as if they are alien; hence, it is categorized as an autoimmune disorder.

Multiple sclerosis is believed to affect around 300,000 people in the United States. Worldwide, over 1 million people are affected by the autoimmune disorder. It is a fact that twice as many women are affected by this disorder as men.

What Happens In Multiple Sclerosis?
In multiple sclerosis, the body misdirects the white blood cells and antibodies against the myelin sheath proteins. (The myelin sheath is a fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers in your spinal cord and brain. Like the sheath around an electrical wire, the myelin sheath protects the nerves from damage.)

This misdirected activity injures the sheath and it gets inflamed; eventually, this inflammation spreads to the surrounding nerves. This damage slowly goes on to block the nerve signals that controls the body’s strength, muscle coordination, vision and sensation.
The part of the body where demyelination occurs shows the development of plaques and lesions.

Why This Happens?
The primary factor for the development of the multiple sclerosis are genes. If the parents are afflicted with the disease, their children are most likely to get it. Viruses causing diseases like measles, flu and herpes may also lead to multiple sclerosis. One can also be afflicted with the disease due to a change in the environment.
Hormones, especially sex hormones, like progesterone and estrogen play a significant role in weakening the immune system and provoking multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms
Usually the first signs of the disease or symptoms can be experienced between the ages of 20 and 40.

Numbness or weakness in the limbs and generally on one side of the body at a time
Blurring of the vision or double vision

Complete or partial loss of vision in one eye at a time; one may also experience pain during eye movement

Fatigue

Dizziness

Electric-shock sensations, especially during head movements

Pain or tingling in parts of the body

Lack of coordination and weakness in the lower part of the body


Consequences
The severity of the multiple sclerosis varies from person to person. In some, the disease remains a mild one, whereas in others the disease may also lead to permanent disability.
People affected with the MS may also develop slurred speech, muscle stiffness or spasticity; problems with bowel system, sexual function and the bladder are also not uncommon.
One can also experience some mental changes like difficulties in concentration and forgetfulness
.
Treatment
The doctor finds out the actual status of the disease and then the mode of treatment is decided upon. The affected person has to go through various tests. Medicinal drugs like Rebif and Avonex are prescribed. However, when medicines fail to work, the ultimate option for treatment will be to undergo chemotherapy.

How To Prevent Multiple Sclerosis
If one,s parents are suffering from the disease, he/she should take the required precautions after consulting a doctor. Prior to making any foreign trip, one should take the pains to analyze the effects of any environmental changes. Doctors, too, should be extremely cautious while prescribing medicines to someone who suffers from fluid retention, kidney issues and/or hypertension. People should also follow a balanced diet in order to keep the immune system strong and keep multiple sclerosis at bay.

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