Introduction to Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease where the nerves of the central nervous system begin to degenerate. It can range from a benign condition to a rather disabling disease in some people.

In Multiple Sclerosis, the myelin, which provides insulation for the nerves going to the brain and the spine, begins to degenerate due to inflammation.

Myelin is important because, aside from providing a protective covering to the nerves in the body, they also help improve the conduction of impulses between the nerves as well as maintain the health of the nerves.

As the myelin degenerates and eventually disappears, this protective covering on the nerves disappear, affect the effective transmission of nerve impulses as well as damage the nerves later on.

And as the myelin is damaged, the body is unable to completely repair the tissue back to its undamaged state, with scarring usually becoming permanent.

As more and more of the myelin disappears, certain functions of the nervous system such as vision, speech and memory as well as some motor skills are gradually impaired due to interferences with the nerve signals.

Despite extensive studies of the disease, the root cause of Multiple Sclerosis remains unknown. Although there are certain risk factors that have been identified lately, experts are still in the dark as to what actually causes Multiple Sclerosis.

Many experts believe that Ms might be caused by a combination of both environmental as well as genetic factors. There are some that believe MS to be an autoimmune disease, one in which the body’s immune system launches a defensive attack on its own tissues.

The first symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are usually experienced by people aged between 20 and 40. MS seems to affect women more frequently than men. This disease is also known to be more prevalent in people living in temperate climates than people living in tropical regions.

The symptoms that may arise from Multiple Sclerosis may differ from person to person. It may range from mild or severe, long term or short term and may even appear and disappear quickly.

The symptoms that MS may show may also differ in intensity as well as in its character. Symptoms identified with Multiple Sclerosis include changes in sensation, abnormal muscle spasms, muscle weakness and impaired motor skills such as walking or even standing.

Advanced cases may also show difficulty in speech control, as well as other motor functions such as swallowing, visual difficulties, bowel and bladder problems and cognitive impairment.

Although there are several treatments for the disease, a total cure for Multiple Sclerosis is not yet known. Treatments for the disease include the use of certain drugs such as beta interferon which are derived from human cytokines and help in regulating the immune system.

There is also a treatment that makes use of a synthetic form of myelin basic protein called copolymer I which is used to treat relapsing or remitting MS.

For chronic or advanced MS, an immunosuppressant drug called mitoxantrone has recently been approved by the FDA for use but may also have its limits due to cardiotoxicity.

 
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