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Understanding Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

A chronic disorder, multiple sclerosis predominantly affects individuals in their most productive years. Multiple sclerosis causes demyelination of the spinal cord and brain nerve cells. Environmental and genetic factors are known to contribute to multiple sclerosis; however, a specific cause for the diseases has still not been found. The neurological disorder begins with subacute or acute abnormalities which can vary drastically in their severity over a period of time.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
People living with multiple sclerosis can experience a variety of symptoms; however, the signs vary from one individual to another. Moreover, the symptoms can differ in severity from a day to a month and further to a year. Two of the most commonly seen symptoms of multiple sclerosis include – difficulty in walking and fatigue, which is more than just the feeling of tiredness. Fatigue can affect a person’s ability to work or perform the simplest tasks.
Walking difficulty can occur because of a number of reasons, which include:

  • Muscle spasticity and weakness
  • Numbness of feet or legs
  • Difficulty in balancing

Some of the other more commonly seen symptoms are:

  • Acute or chronic pain
  • Speech disorder
  • Cognitive issues
  • Experiencing tremors
  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to empty the bladder
  • Dizziness or vertigo

Multiple Sclerosis Causes
According to the doctors, it is still not clear what causes multiple sclerosis; however, there are some interesting facts that suggest a person’s environment, a virus or the genes play a vital role. In the United States, multiple sclerosis is more commonly seen among the whites as compared to other racial groups.
Multiple sclerosis is also believed to be a disease of temperate climate as its prevalence increase as we move away from the equator. According to the researchers, multiple sclerosis may run in the family. First, second and third-degree relatives of people with multiple sclerosis are at a higher risk of developing this disorder. There are 2% to 5% chances of a baby developing this disease born to a mother suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Some studies have also suggested that different viruses; for instance, Varicella zoster, Epstein-Barr, and Hepatitis vaccine may be the reason a person is suffering from multiple sclerosis. However, nothing has been proved related to the theory.

Risk Factors Associated with Multiple Sclerosis
People aged between 15 to 60 years are most likely to develop multiple sclerosis, with the average age of getting diagnosed with this disease being 30 years. It has been reported that approximately 2.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with this disorder. Moreover, women are two times as likely to develop multiple sclerosis as men.

Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Before diagnosing multiple sclerosis, the doctor makes sure he has studied the patient history well. A majority of patients have experienced symptoms that were ignored or were believed to be a sign of other illness. After obtaining the medical history, the doctor will suggest you undergo a complete physical examination test. He will look for signs of injury to the spinal cord or the brain. This helps the doctor to find which part of the CNS is involved.
A spinal tap is performed to collect cerebrospinal fluid to confirm the presence of inflammatory markers, proteins or other substances. Evoked potential testing can help to tap slow response time. Once multiple sclerosis has been suspected, blood test and other important tests are done to exclude different conditions.

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Options
Till date, no cure for multiple sclerosis is available. However, multiple treatment options exist. If you are suffering from RRMS (relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis), the doctor may suggest you take disease-modifying drugs. These drugs will help lower the relapse rate.
You can even be suggested to take:

  • Self-injectable drugs
  • Oral medications
  • Intravenous infusion treatments
  • Corticosteroids
  • Prednisone
  • Methylprednisolone

Multiple sclerosis is not a fatal disease; however, if the patient is not treated on time, he may develop pronounced problems. Therefore, it is important to reach out to an experienced doctor on the first symptom of the disorder.