Multiple sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS, is an autoimmune disease that impacts the nervous system. The immune system in the human body generates antibodies that safeguard the body against bacteria, viruses and additional foreign substances. MS patients’ immune systems destroy the substance surrounding and protecting the nerve cells.
This substance is known as the myelin sheath. If the myelin surrounding the nerves is destroyed or damaged, the nerves will not be able to function as designed. The nerves will not be able to transmit electrical messages to the brain or other portions of the body. All in all, MS impacts everything from normal sensations to movements and even thought processes.
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Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
While MS can impact people of all ages, it tends to begin in the 20s or 30s. Medical researchers are not quite sure what causes MS. MS is typically the combination of genetic, viral and environmental issues. It is interesting to note medical researchers link some viruses to this autoimmune disease.
A child who experiences one or several viruses seems to be that much more vulnerable to MS. MS tends to affect women and Caucasian individuals more than others. If a parent has MS, there is a greater chance the offspring will also have it. Those who suffer from other autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes or thyroid disease are slightly more likely to develop MS.
Studies show geographic location also impacts the risk of MS. The data shows people who spend their youth in areas with a temperate climate like the northern portion of the U.S. are slightly more likely to suffer from this autoimmune disease than those who live in warmer areas.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
At the moment, a cure for MS does not exist. Some people who suffer from MS cope by using a combination of medication, occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy. The proper combination of such treatment modalities differs for each patient. Consulting with a doctor to determine the optimal combination of treatments will help t relieve your symptoms.
A careful approach to treatment will make it that much easier to cope with this autoimmune disease. MS patients often endure flare-ups that inflame affected nerves. These flare-ups can cause considerable pain and a loss of functionality in parts of the body. Steroids decrease inflammation to allow a quick return to normal functionality. Examples of steroids that a doctor may prescribe to MS patients include prednisone.
The patient takes this steroid orally. People can also apply the steroids in the form of a shot known as methylprednisolone. MS sufferers typically take steroids for a brief period of time to ameliorate symptoms. While steroids will help in the short-term, they will not cure MS or reduce the long-term impact.
Medicines have helped certain MS patients obtain relief from symptoms. Certain medications even shape the disease’s long-term outcome. MS medicines treat common MS symptoms ranging from bladder control issues to depression, chronic pain, muscle stiffness, constipation and erectile dysfunction.
As an example, interferons are a natural protein group that human cells form. Interferons slow the rate at which MS symptoms worsen as time progresses. This type of medicine is usually provided in the form of an injection. Examples of interferons that can help MS patients include IFN Beta-1b and IFN Beta-1a.
However, MS patients with mild symptoms avoid such medicines due to the risks associated with them. Some of these medications can lead to serious side effects. The bottom line is that there are risks as well as potential benefits from taking medication for MS pain management.
La Mesa, California Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
MS symptoms vary by individual. What matters most is the area of the body in which the myelin sheath is compromised. MS symptoms have the potential to come and go over time. It is possible for these symptoms to flare up for a day or two, several weeks or even several months. While the symptoms might go into remission for a while, the scarring can occur that permanently affects nerves.
The common symptoms of MS include:
- Loss of bowel control
- Vision issues
- Memory problems
- Tremors and/or muscle weakness
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Some patients experience shock-like sensations after moving their head. The vision issues include blurriness, double vision, general eye pain, partial color blindness and the loss of vision in an eye.
Many MS patients develop an inflammation of the optic nerve known as optic neuritis. This is a very painful loss of vision often preceded by a flashing light, color alterations or hazy/blurred vision. If diagnosed early, it is possible to apply a treatment that alters the disease’s course.
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If you are in need of treatment or an examination to see if you have MS, call us today to schedule an appointment.
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