We all wanted to have longer lives, and enjoy time with our loved ones, visiting different places, going for adventures, eating new cuisines, shopping new stuff, and seeing things improve and grow in our lives. Because of these dreams, we maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid stress and disease-causing habits. However, there are some instances when we cannot escape the dangers and attacks of the unknown, causing health problems like in the case of autoimmune diseases.
Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is a type of autoimmune disease or an illness in which the immune system produces antibodies that attack healthy body tissues. Autoimmune is when your body attacks itself. MS affects the myelin sheath or the fatty material which wraps around your nerve fibers of neurons in the central nervous system where our brains, optic nerves, and spinal cord are located. When the body attacks the myelin sheaths, it leads to the inflammation and scarring of the neurons. Neurons are responsible for sending signals to either another nerve, a gland, or a muscle. If these neurons are inflamed or scared, there is a decrease in nerve signal transmission, leading to a lot of motor and sensory issues.
MS is a long-term condition that can sometimes cause severe disability of the brain, spinal cord, or nervous system, although it can occasionally be mild. As of this time, there are still no concrete findings of the cause of the illness, but most experts believe that a particular combination of genetic and environmental factors are involved.
There are studies that say people may have M.S. after having a viral infection like Epstein – Barr virus and Human Herpesvirus 6, which affects the normal function of the immune system. It may cause relapses and trigger the disease. Scientists are studying whether there is a link between viruses and M.S., but have not yet found a clear answer. Smoking may also raise the risk.
People can be affected by this disease at any age, but it is commonly diagnosed in women than men aging 20-40 years old.
Signs and symptoms
There are variations to the signs and symptoms of M.S. from person to person. It depends on the severity of the neuron damage and to the area where the damage is at most. M.S. affects the CNS, which controls all the motor processes.
The most common symptoms include:
⦁ Numbness and tingling: Pins and needles-type sensation that can affect the face, arms, body, and legs.
⦁ Lhermitte’s sign: This is like an electric shock sensation when moving the neck.
⦁ Spasticity and muscle spasms: Damaged nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain can cause painful muscle spasms, particularly in the legs.
⦁ Muscle weakness: Due to nerve damage, people may develop weak muscles due to lack of use or stimulation.
⦁ Bladder problems: Loss of bladder control that results in the difficulty emptying the bladder or need to urinate frequently or suddenly (urge incontinence).
⦁ Fatigue: Because muscles become weak, fatigue is the most common symptom, along with dizziness and vertigo.
⦁ Tremor: Some people will experience involuntary quivering movements
⦁ Vision problems: The effect is usually happening to one eye at a time. Inflamed optic nerves result in pain when the eye moves. The damage on the optic nerves also causes double or blurred vision, a partial or total vision loss, and red-green color distortion.
⦁ Cognitive issues: Effect of M.S. in cerebellum will cause memory problems, emotional changes, and depression
There are nearly one million people in the United States, and about 2.5 million worldwide are living with M.S., based on a recent finding from a study of the National MS Society. However, in a study published in the journal Neurology in 2019, there might be some under-representation, and the worldwide numbers might be much higher.
The last study of the prevalence of M.S. in the U.S. was conducted in 1975 because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not require U.S. health practitioners to report new cases. Previous prevalence estimates were extrapolations of this 1975 data.
As of this time, there is no cure for M.S., but there are available treatment methods to improve the function of the body and lessen the pain caused by the disease.
Prescribed medication helps prevent or treat attacks, help manage the stress that can come with the condition, and may slow the course of the disease.