Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a long-term ailment that can influence your optic nerves in your eyed, spinal cord, and the brain I It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions.
The impact is often different for everyone who has the MS. Some people have middle to moderate symptoms and don’t require treatment. Others will have difficulty getting around and performing daily tasks.
MS occurs when your immune system strikes a fatty material referred to as myelin, which covers your nerve fibers to guard them. Without this external shell, your nerves become injured. Scar tissue may develop.
The destruction means your brain is unable to send signals to your body effectively. Your nerves also don’t operate as they should to assist you in movements and sensations. As a result, you may have symptoms like:
- Feeling tired
- Trouble walking
- Blurred or double vision
- Muscle weakness or spasms
- Numbness and tingling
- Sexual problems
- Poor bladder or bowel control
- Sexual problems
- Problems focusing or remembering
The first manifestations often start between ages 20 and 40. Most people with MS have bouts, also called relapses, when the condition gets noticeably worse. They’re normally followed by times of recovery when symptoms improve. For other people, the disease proceeds to get worse over time.
In recent years, experts have discovered many new treatments that can often help deter relapses and slow the disease’s effects.
What Causes MS?
Physicians don’t understand for sure what causes MS, but many things seem to make the disease more likely. People with certain genes may have greater chances of getting it. Smoking also may increase the risk.
Some people may get MS after they’ve possessed a viral infection — like the human herpesvirus 6 or the Epstein-Barr virus — that makes their immune system stop working regularly. The infection may cause the disease or trigger relapses. Scientists are investigating the connection between viruses and MS, but they don’t possess a clear answer yet.
Some research suggests that vitamin D, which you can acquire from sunlight, may stimulate your immune system and shield you from MS. Some people with higher possibilities of acquiring the disease who move to sunnier regions seem to lower their risk.
Receiving a Diagnosis
It can be difficult to diagnose MS since its symptoms can be the identical to many other nerve disorders. If your physician believes you have it, he’ll want you to consult a specialist, called a neurologist. Who treats the nervous system and brain. She’ll ask you regarding your medical history and examine you for important signs of nerve degeneration in your brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord.
There’s no individual test that can confirm you have MS. Your physician will use a few various ones to examine you. These may include:
Analysis of the liquid that cushions your brain and spinal cord called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). People with MS usually have specific proteins in their CSF.
Checks of your balance, coordination, vision, and other functions to see how well your nerves are working
Blood tests to rule out conditions that trigger similar symptoms, like Lyme disease and AIDS
A test that makes detailed pictures of the structures in your body called an MRI
Tests (called evoked potentials) that regulate the electrical activity in your brain
There is no cure for MS to date but some methods can improve how you feel and keep your body working well.
Your physician can also designate drugs that may reduce the course of the disease, prevent or treat attacks, ease your symptoms, or help you managethe stress that can come with the condition.
Drugs that may slow your MS or help nerve damage include:
Beta interferon (Avonex, Betaseron, and Rebif)
Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
Your physician may provide you with steroids to make your MS attacks less severe and shorter. You can also examine other drugs, like tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, or botulinum toxin (Botox), to relieve muscle spasms and treat some of the other symptoms.
A physical therapist can guide you exercises that will maintain your strength and balance and help you control pain and fatigue. An occupational therapist can provide training to you about new ways to do certain duties to make it simpler to work and take care of yourself. If you have difficulty getting around, a cane, walker, or crutches can help you walk more easily.
Along with treatment, you can arrange other things to ease your MS symptoms. Get proper exercise and dodge too much heat to boost your energy. Ask your physician about attempting yoga to ease fatigue or stress. Take care of your emotional health, too. It’s OK to ask family, friends, or an advocate for help with any stress or anxiety you may feel. Support organizations are also great places to connect with other people living with MS.
What’s the Outlook for MS?
Studies are giving doctors more therapy options for the condition, a better understanding of what produces it, and the knowledge to diagnose it earlier. Stem-cell and genetic research may someday help scientists repair broken nerves or stop the disease before it induces damage.
Researchers are also studying new ways to treat MS in clinical trials. These trials experiment with new medications to see if they’re trustworthy and if they work. They’re usually a way for people to try a new medicine that isn’t accessible to everyone. Ask your doctor if one of these trials might be a good fit for you.