What is Multiple sclerosis? Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. The central nervous system consists of optical nerves, the spinal cord and the brain.Nerve fibers of the central nervous system are surrounded by fatty tissue called “myelin”, which helps them control electrical impulses of the body. In MS, myelin is damaged at various places on nerve fibers, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. The nerve fibers can be completely damaged or broken by this.
What causes MS is not known as yet, but a lot of research is being done at this point in time. Present research is indicating that the damage to myelin is caused by an abnormal response of the body’s immune system. In normal cases, the body’s immune system protects us from attacks from viruses and bacteria, but in MS the immune system attacks its own tissues, as if there simply was not enough cellular communication, or not good cell to cell communication.This type of disease is referred to as an autoimmune disease. A reason it is hard to diagnose in the early stages is that symptoms are not only different in every individual, they are different in the same person from time to time. Symptoms may or may not include weakness, tingling, poor coordination of body parts, fatigue for long periods, blurry vision, involuntary movement of the eye (sometimes at a rapid pace), stiffness of muscles, slurred speech, bladder problems, difficulty in walking, decrease or increase in sensitivity to heat, loss of memory, reduction in logical thinking ability, problems with sexual function, depression and partial or complete paralysis of the body. These symptoms may go away on their own.
MS is hard to diagnose in the beginning, as a result number of tests are needed to confirm the disease. Starting from the patient’s medical history, a full neurological exam, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, and study of the central nervous system through visual stimulation is conducted. Sometimes, fluid is taken out of the substance surrounding the spinal cord to look at its composition.When the medical histories of patients are examined, questions of the disease’s hereditary nature are raised. Although research has not given a definite answer to this question, medical professionals do believe that family predisposition is a factor in the incidence of the disease. Females are often found to be more susceptible to MS. When we look at the world it is often argued that is more common in mild climates than in tropical climates, but whether this can be proven or not is a different question. Multiple sclerosis is often treated in two ways. The first is aimed at curing the disease itself and the second is the usage of drugs and techniques to reduce the impact and severity of the symptoms. People often think that those with MS will end up in a wheel chair sooner or later, but this is not necessarily true. Many people with this disease are able to walk for the rest of their lives. It is more likely, however, that sufferers will be in need of mobility devices as the disease progresses over a long period of time. Sometimes these devices are used by people to avoid injuries even though they are able to walk on their own.
Axon destruction begins in the incipient stages of multiple sclerosis and it is considered to be the main reason for the irreversible character of the disease. The spontaneous periods of remission experienced by most patients with MS are believed to occur not as a result of temporary decreased autoimmune response, but as a result of accentuated remyelination (repairing of the myelin) at the level of the nerve cells. However, the beneficial effects of remyelination are later surpassed by the undesired actions of the immune system in the periods of relapse. Intrigued by the process of spontaneous remyelination that occurs in the periods of remission, medical scientists are currently working to stimulate and enhance this process at the level of the nerve cells in patients with multiple sclerosis. Extra stimulation of the nervous systems’ production of myelin, corroborated with immunosuppressive treatments may provide an efficient cure in the near future.