Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive and chronic disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Along with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), Multiple sclerosis is classified as a type of neurological disorders. In this article, we will have a look at what the condition is and how it is treated.
What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When the condition occurs, the immune system attacks the myelin that covers nerve fibers, disrupting signal transmission between the brain and other body parts. Eventually, this causes permanent damage to the nerves.
What are the signs & symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Signs and symptoms of MS vary depending on the type and number of damaged nerve cells. Such symptoms include:
- Loss of sensation;
- Partial/ complete loss of vision. The disease usually affects one side of the eye and causes pain during eye movement;
- Numbness or muscle weakness in the limbs, clumsiness, unbalance and spasticity;
- Loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction;
- Slurred speech;
When to see a doctor?
If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.
What causes Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Up to know, the causes of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) still remain unknown. Some studies suggest that the condition is the result of a malfunction in the immune system. As a result, the immune system attacks and destroys the myelin, which acts as a protective cover of nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. When that happens, signal transmission in the body is slowed down or even blocked.
What increases the risk of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
These factors may increase the risk of Multiple sclerosis:
- Genetic factors;
- Certain autoimmune diseases.
Diagnosis & Treatment
There are no specific tests to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The doctor may recommend a blood test, spinal tap (lumbar puncture), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and evoked potential test (EPT).
MRI can reveal the inflamed or destroyed myelin area. For spinal tap, the doctors will take an amount of sample fluid from the spinal canal for examination. On the other hand, EPT is performed to find abnormalities in the brain function by recording its electrical signals.
As of now, there is no complete cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Instead, the focus of MS treatment is to control the symptoms and slow down the disease’s progression.
- Corticosteroids such as oral prednisone and intravenous methylprednisolone may help reduce nerve inflammation.
- To modify the condition’s progression, he/she may prescribe beta interferons to slow down and stop the immune system’s response.
- Physical therapy and muscle relaxants such as baclofen (Lioresal) and tizanidine (Zanaflex) may also aid in the treatment of MS.
- Stem cell treatment may promote the healing of brain injury and restore neurological function.
How can I limit the progression of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
To relieve the signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), remember to practice the following habits:
- Exercise. If you have mild to moderate MS, regular exercise will help improve your health, tone your muscles, improve your balance and coordination. Swimming and other water sports are good options. Other mild to moderate exercises for people with multiple sclerosis include walking, muscle stretching, aerobics, bicycles, yoga, and tai chi;
- Balancing diet. Studies showed that diets low in saturated fat but rich in omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil and fish oil may prove to be beneficial. In addition, vitamin D may have potential benefits for MS patients;
- Relieve stress. Stress can cause or worsen your signs and symptoms. Yoga, tai chi, massage, meditation and deep breathing will help reduce stress.
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Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Download version. Page 679.
Multiple sclerosis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/home/ovc-20131882. Accessed on July 10, 2019.
Multiple sclerosis. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1146199-overview. Accessed on July 10, 2019.