Multiple Sclerosis - Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment (Ms)
Alternative name : Ms
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a baffling and unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is a chronic, progressive and demyelinating disease. It destroys the covering or insulating material around the nervous fibres, known as myeline.
The central nervous system is the nerve centre of the body. It is usually defined as the brain and spinal cord. It is linked with most nerve systems in the body, and some nerve from it continue on into parts of the body outside the brain and spinal cord. It is a wonderfully efficient system. With the help of other nerve systems, it is constantly at work, transmitting message into and out of the brain and spinal cord to and from all parts of the body 24 hours a day, even during sleep. Even the simplest action may involve scores of messages to different muscle fibres. In multiple sclerosis, these messages do not travel through the central nervous system properly and are slowed, distorted or, in some cases, blocked completely due to damage to the nerve tissue.
The disease is called multiple because many parts of the brain and spinal card are affected. It is called sclerosis because the disease involves 'sclerosed' or hardened tissue in damaged areas of the brain and spinal cord. The disease usually affects people between the ages of 20 and 50 years, but can also occur before 20 or after 50 years. It is, however, not found for the first time in persons over 55 years, or before adolescence. Women are slightly more affected by this disease than men.
Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary greatly from person to person. Typical pattern is short period of acute symptoms, followed by an easing or disappearance of symptoms for weeks, months or even years. Some persons have mild attacks that never return. Common initial symptoms may include extreme fatigue, loss of balance and coordination, numbness and weakness of limbs, eye trouble, speech difficulties, and loss of bladder control. The patient may experience one, several or all of these symptoms, depending on the location and extent of damage to the nerve tissue. Some of the common symptoms for multiple sclerosis includes :
Causes of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is a mystery in many ways. Medical science has not as yet been able to identify the cause of multiple scelerosis. Scientists have ascribed three probable causes for the onset of this disease. The most important of these is the viral attack. When viruses enter the body, they multiply rapidly inside the body cells. Most viruses cause symptoms quickly. Certain slow acting viruses also reappear later, causing new symptoms. Other slow acting viruses stay inside the body for months or years before triggering illness.
The second probable cause is related to immune reaction. Our bodies have a built in defense system which destroys viruses and bacteria. The defense system can backfire and start attacking the body's own cells. This is called an auto immune reaction. Multiple sclerosis might involve an auto immune reaction in which the body attacks its own tissues.
The third possible cause of multiple sclerosis is the combination of both viruses and immune reaction. When viruses invade the body, they take over body cells. The body defense system might become confused because some viruses take over parts of cells, and it might attack both host cells and virus.
The most important factors which might precipitate multiple sclerosis are exposure to cold, mental distress, over exertion, some acute disease, an actual lesion of the central nervous system of traumatic or other nature and some specific febrile disease. There is evidence to suggest that multiple sclerosis patients tend to have experienced, on average, up to three times the unwanted stressful events in their lives within two years prior to the onset of their first symptoms compared with average number of patients with other disease.
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