Multiple sclerosis is a mysterious disease of the central nervous system that affects people in different ways. Some people will have minimal difficulty maintaining their day-to-day lives once they are afflicted with the disease, while others will suffer profoundly.
Most physicians think that multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder where your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal body tissues, according to Everyday Health. The myelin sheath, which serves to protect the nerve fibers of the neurological system, are damaged or destroyed by the immune system. Eventually, the sheath is broken down and decimated, leaving behind scar tissue that disrupts the electrical impulses sent out by the brain to other parts of the body. This causes the nerves to work incorrectly and can affect coordination, vision, balance and other bodily functions.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
The symptoms of MS, and their duration and severity, will differ from person to person. The first symptoms often start between ages 20 and 40, according to WebMD. Common early symptoms include numbness and tingling, vision disturbances and problems with balance and walking. You may also experience fatigue, heat sensitivity, depression and problems focusing and remembering. Because the symptoms are rather broad, it’s easy for MS to be misdiagnosed as another disease at first.
Testing for MS
There isn’t any one test for multiple sclerosis. Your physician will likely run a battery of tests to rule out other neurological diseases that may be the underlying cause of your issues. Your doctor will discuss your health history in depth to get a better idea of your symptoms and their duration. A physical exam can help determine the health of your nerves and muscles. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam can help detect any lesions in the central nervous system where the myelin has been destroyed. A final test of your lumbar fluid may be conducted to see if specific proteins commonly found in MS patients are present in you, according to WebMD.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
Currently, there isn’t a cure for MS. However, there are things you can do to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with it. Your doctor can prescribe drugs that may slow its course, prevent or treat attacks or help you manage the stress that multiple sclerosis can bring. Physical and occupational therapy can help, depending on the severity of the disease. Practicing yoga and meditation can do wonders for your mental well-being.
Researchers are busy trying to develop a cure for MS. They are hoping to learn what causes multiple sclerosis, how to accurately diagnose it and the best course of treatment. Stem-cell and genetic research seems promising, along with clinical trials to test new drug therapies, as mentioned by WebMD.