- Things to Know
- 7 MS Signs & Symptoms
- 4 MS Types
- 7 MS Complications
Various research suggests alcohol directly affects the central nervous system by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in oligodendrocytes (cells that make myelin) that leads to demyelination, thus temporarily worsening multiple sclerosis symptoms.
While another theory suggests that alcohol has ameliorating effects on multiple sclerosis symptoms by suppressing the immune system, such as innate, humoral, and cellular immunity, and increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Hence, experts recommend moderate alcohol consumption. Do not start consuming alcohol assuming it may help with MS. Studies suggest that alcohol may worsen some of the MS symptoms, such as balance issues, increased urine frequency, and depression.
According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a moderate amount of alcohol for:
- Men is up to two drinks per day
- Women is up to one drink per day
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS, the brain, and the spinal cord), causing damage to the nerve fibers and the myelin sheath and disrupting signals to and from the brain.
Multiple sclerosis more commonly affects women than men in the age group of 20 to 40 years.
It is estimated that approximately 1 million adults in the United States are living with the condition.
What causes multiple sclerosis?
The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. However, some research suggests that genetic, environmental, and microbial factors and infection history play key roles in causing the condition.
Multiple sclerosis is a result of the inflammatory process enhanced by inflammatory cytokines and antibodies initiated by the T-cells, which enter the brain by disrupting the blood-brain barrier and attacking myelin (the sheath that protects the nerve cells or neurons in the brain and spinal cord) and the nerve fibers considering it as a foreign antigen.
Other factors that are speculated to be associated with the etiology of multiple sclerosis or are considered triggering factors may include:
7 signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis
The condition is unpredictable and affects everyone differently; however, some of the most common symptoms reported are:
4 types of multiple sclerosis
- Primary progressive multiple sclerosis: Symptoms develop slowly and worsen gradually with no periods of relapse or remission.
- Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: Continuous nerve damage results in progressively worsening symptoms with some relapses (worsening symptoms) or flares (increased severity of symptoms) with no remissions (stabilization or absence of symptoms for weeks, months, or even years).
- Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS): First episode or initiation of symptoms is recognized as CIS, which may progress to full-blown multiple sclerosis.
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS): The most seen type of multiple sclerosis, people diagnosed with RRMS develop flare-ups, relapses, or exacerbations (new or worsening symptoms) that are followed by periods of remissions with no disease progression.
How do doctors diagnose multiple sclerosis?
There is no single test available to provide a confirmatory and definitive diagnosis of multiple sclerosis; however, a neurologist (a specialist of treating conditions of the brain and the spinal cord) may perform tests, such as:
- Physical examination: To assess reflexes and muscle weakness.
- Blood tests: To rule out other conditions or any underlying nutritional deficiencies.
- Imaging tests: To look for lesions (damaged areas) in the brain or the spinal cord.
- Lumbar puncture: A spinal tap is done, in certain cases, to differentiate from other conditions.
- Evoked potentials test: To evaluate the nerve function by measuring the electrical activity of the brain and the spinal cord.
What are treatments for multiple sclerosis?
Currently, there is no permanent cure available for multiple sclerosis. However, treatment aims to manage symptoms, reduce relapses, and slow the disease progression.
The treatment plan may consist of the following:
- Disease-modifying therapies:
- Drugs that help reduce flare-ups and slow down the disease progression, such as:
- Relapse managing medications: High-dose corticosteroids help reduce inflammation and damage to the nerve cells.
- Plasmapheresis: It helps remove the antibodies that may be attacking nerve cells.
- Physical rehabilitation: Regular physical activity helps maintain mobility and prevents disabilities.
- Counseling: A neuropsychologist provides emotional support to cope with the debilitating condition.
Other lifestyle choices that can lessen the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life include:
- Consume a healthy and balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins and avoid added sugars, unhealthy fats, and processed foods
- Exercise regularly to keep the muscles strong and flexible
- Avoid stress using techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or counseling
- Avoid or quit smoking
- Limit intake of alcohol
Fahim, M., Rafiee Zadeh, A., Shoureshi, P., et al. "Alcohol and multiple sclerosis: an immune system-based review." Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2020;12(2):58-69. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7218739/>.
"Multiple sclerosis." Cleveland Clinic. <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17248-multiple-sclerosis>.
"Multiple sclerosis." Johns Hopkins Medicine. <https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/multiple_sclerosis/conditions/>.
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MS (Multiple Sclerosis) vs. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) are both diseases of the nervous system (neurodegenerative). ALS is a disease in which the nerve cells in the body are attacked by the immune system, although it's not considered an autoimmune disease by some scientists. MS is an autoimmune disease in which the insulated covering of the nerves (myelin sheath) in the CNS (central nervous system) degenerate, or deteriorate.
Scientists don't know the exact cause of either problem. However, they have discovered that mutations in the gene that produces the SOD1 enzyme were associated with some cases of familial ALS. Scientists also theorize that multiple sclerosis may be caused by infection or vitamin D deficiency. ALS occurs between 50-70 years of age (the average age of occurrence ALS is 55), and mostly affects men. While MS occurs between 20-60 years of age, and mostly affects women. About 30,000 people in the US have ALS, and an average of 5,000 new diagnoses per year (that's about 15 new cases per week). Worldwide, MS affects more than 2.3 million people, with about 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year (that's about 200 new diagnoses per week).
Some of the signs and symptoms of both diseases include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, problems walking, fatigue, slurred speech, and problems swallowing. ALS signs and symptoms that are different from MS include problems holding the head upright, clumsiness, muscle cramps and twitches, problems holding objects, and uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying. MS signs and symptoms that are different from ALS include vision problems, vertigo and balance problems, sexual problems, memory problems, depression, mood swings, and digestive problems.
There is no cure for either disease, however the prognosis and life expectancy are different. Multiple sclerosis is not a fatal condition, while ALS progresses rapidly and leads to death.
Alternative Treatment (CAM) for MSThe term alternative therapy, in general, is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that has not been scientifically documented or identified as safe or effective for a specific condition. Alternative therapy encompasses a variety of disciplines that range from diet and exercise to mental conditioning to lifestyle changes.
Botox to Treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS)Botulinum toxin is a muscle-relaxing medication used to decrease spasticity related to multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions. Botulinum toxin is derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three types of botulinum toxin available for therapeutic use.
Can Stress Cause Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?Multiple sclerosis (MS) results when your immune system attacks the cells of the brain and spinal cord. It is an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the body's immune system is misdirected and attacks its own cells. Stress can make it difficult for a person to manage MS symptoms. Regular exercise and mindful eating have been found to control the stress levels and overall health of people with MS.
Is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Contagious?Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a degenerative disease of the covering around the nerves in the central nervous system (CNS). Researchers and doctors don't know the exact cause, but many theorize that it may be due to environmental triggers, an autoimmune disease, and viruses (infections). Symptoms and signs of MS include vision changes, paralysis, vertigo, heat intolerance, slurred speech, sexual dysfunction, and urinary incontinence (the inability to urinate). There's no vaccine or cure for MS, but the progression and symptoms of the disease can be treated.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and TreatmentsMultiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between ages 20-40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Making an MS Friendly HomeAdults with multiple sclerosis may be at risk for injuries, hazards, and falling at home. Some simple home modifications can protect your health and safety and facilitate fall prevention. Reduce your risk of accidents and prevent hazards with these tips.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and PregnancyMultiple sclerosis or MS is a central nervous system disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath (the protective coating around nerves). Symptoms of MS include pain, sexual problems, fatigue, numbness and tingling, emotional changes, and depression.
Women who are pregnant and have multiple sclerosis may have more difficulty carrying a pregnancy. Multiple sclerosis does not affect ability to conceive, and does not seem to affect fertility. MS symptoms during pregnancy may stay the same or get better; however, they may worsen after giving birth. Pregnancy decreases the number of relapses, but flares increase in the first 3-6 months after delivery. Pregnant women with MS may carrying a pregnancy more difficult to tell when labor starts, and there is an increased need to use forceps or vacuum to assist with delivery or b7 C-section (Cesarean birth) increases.
Some treatment MS drugs may be safe to use during pregnancy; however, some drugs should not be taken, for example, baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), or solifenacin succinate (VESIcare), and most disease-modifying therapies (DMTs).
Talk with your healthcare team about vitamins, supplements, and medications that you are taking if you are pregnant and have MS.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Early Warning Signs and TypesMultiple sclerosis (MS) can be thought of as an immune-mediated inflammatory process involving different areas of the central nervous system (CNS) at various points in time. Early warning signs and symptoms of MS in children, teens, and adults are similar; however, children and teens with pediatric also may have seizures and a complete lack of energy. Adults with MS do not have these signs and symptoms. Other signs and symptoms of MS include inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), changes in vision, Wiping or having tissues around the eye and moving the eye may be painful, and double vision. There are four types of MS, relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and progressive relapsing MD (PRMS).
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