What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). MS is an autoimmune disease; the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the cells of the nervous system. The immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers, eventually resulting in deterioration of the nerves and permanent damage of the nerves. MS is a disease with flares and symptom-free intervals. The symptoms of the disease become worse over time (relapsing), followed by periods of less severe symptoms (remitting) without asymptotic periods. The exact cause is not known but there are several risk factors, such as:
- Age: MS commonly occurs between 20 and 40 years of age but can occur at any age.
- Sex: Women are two to three times more prone to develop the disease than men.
- Family history: The risk of developing the disease increases if one of the parents, grandparents, or siblings have the disease.
- Certain infections: Infections like infectious mononucleosis (kissing disease) caused by the Epstein-Barr virus can increase the risk of MS.
- Race: People with lighter skin tone, especially those of Northern European descent, are at the highest risk of developing MS, while Asians have the lowest risk.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Having low levels of Vitamin D can increase the risk of MS.
- Other autoimmune diseases: Having other autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can increase the risk of MS.
- Smoking: Smoking may increase the risk of developing MS.
The signs and symptoms of MS vary depending on the nerves affected and the extent of nerve damage. MS can progress leading to permanent disabilities, while others may experience long periods of remission (asymptomatic periods) without any new symptoms. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis; however, there are several treatment options available to manage symptoms and modify the course of the disease and slow the progression. With treatment, most people with MS have a normal life expectancy. Without treatment, the disease progresses leading to debilitating complications.
What are the early signs of multiple sclerosis?
MS presents differently in different individuals affected. Some people may only have mild symptoms, while for others, it may be debilitating, losing the ability to read, write, speak, or walk. The twenty-four early symptoms of MS include:
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Tingling and pins and needles sensation over the extremities
- Shooting pains in the back when in a hot shower
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Muscle stiffness
- Generalized body pain
- Increased frequency of urination and inability to hold urine
- Scanning slow speech
- Twitching of face muscles
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of bowel control
- Facial pain
- Eye pain
- Decreased vision
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Intolerance to heat
- Fatigue and weakness
- Reduced attention span, concentration, memory, and judgment
- Personality changes
- Difficulty walking and maintaining balance
- The symptoms can worsen in women after menopause
What are the complications of multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis can lead to the following complications:
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WebMD. Multiple Sclerosis Health Center. https://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/default.htm
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MS (Multiple Sclerosis) vs. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Differences and SimilaritiesALS (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 for MS (CAM for MS)The 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.
Baclofen PumpThe medication baclofen treats symptoms of spasticity in patient with MS. Side effects of baclofen include sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and confusion.
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.
How Is a Lumbar Puncture Procedure Done?In a lumbar puncture (LP) procedure, or spinal tap, a hollow needle is inserted near the spinal cord to collect a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which can then help diagnose infections (meningitis), hemorrhage, multiple sclerosis, and tumors.
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Symptoms 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.
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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.
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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.
MS QuizMultiple Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition. Take the MS Quiz to test your knowledge of the causes, symptoms, risks and treatments.
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