Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that can disable a person’s brain and spine. The condition occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the myelin, which protects their nerve fibers. Nerve fibers connect the brain to the rest of the body. Without their protection, your brain and body do not communicate.
Although this may not seem serious, it is. Many people who develop MS find out when it is too late and their bodies are already deteriorating. There is also no cure for this condition. Instead, patients can treat their symptoms and slow down the progression.
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
Like many other health conditions, there is no exact cause. There are a lot of theories, though. Research has found that there may be a genetic link between parents and children. Although some studies have found this, there is a lot of uncertainty.
What is known about MS is that it is an autoimmune disease. The body fights itself which hinders its ability to fight off diseases and viruses. While the causes are still unknown, we do know about the risk factors. There are a few risk factors people should consider when it comes to the development of MS.
Risk Factors for Multiple Sclerosis
By examining studies, people have been able to conclude that there are risk factors. Interestingly, although there are risk factors, we still don’t know the science behind why. For instance, women are three times more likely to develop MS than men. The reason, however, is unknown.
There are also geographical risks and risks with age. The most common age for the development of MS is between 20 to 40 years old. It is not common to see children or the elderly with MS. Northern Europeans are also at a higher risk compared to other races, ethnicities, and geographical points.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Not everyone suffers from the same symptoms. However, there are a few common ones. The most common symptoms that affect a person’s bones, joints, and spine are:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of feeling
- Pain in bones or muscles
- Sharp pains in the sides
- Slurred words
- Blurry vision
There are solutions to all of the symptoms listed above. However, if someone with MS does not get treatment in time, their condition can worsen and cause complications.
Complications of Multiple Sclerosis
Just as there are causes, there are complications too. If treatment is not administered, a person with MS can suffer greatly. This is an immune system condition where your body struggles to fight off any diseases, including the common cold. Even one virus can be deadly.
A few other common complications in patients with MS include:
- Mood swings
- Mental disorders
- Bowel problems
- Loss of control
Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis
Sadly, MS takes years to diagnose. This is because the condition takes time to develop and worsen. Sometimes, people with MS can have the disease for years and not realize it. Since many people who are older have MS, it is hard to notice the symptoms. Some symptoms are similar to common signs of aging, like slurred speech and blurry vision.
If you notice any of the symptoms described earlier, you should talk to your doctor about the next few steps. Since the symptoms are vague and a lot of conditions share the same signs, your doctor may request a blood exam. The blood exam cannot tell your doctor if you have MS, but it does help them rule out what it isn’t.
The diagnosis process is long but worth it. After the blood test, your doctor will likely take a sample of spinal fluid. The procedure is short and can be done in under a day. A medical professional takes a syringe and extracts a fluid sample from the patient’s back. The fluid is sent to the lab, where it is tested and examined for MS antibodies.
The best way to diagnose MS, however, is through the use of a CT scan or MRI. These scans use radiation to take pictures of your body. It can show your doctor if you have any deterioration, how much, and where. The dark spots on an MRI scan are lesions typically caused by MS.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Sadly, there is no cure for MS. Once you are diagnosed with this disease, you have it for the rest of your life. However, it is important to understand that there are ways to slow down the progression. You can have MS and live a long and healthy life as long as you follow through with treatment.
The most common treatments prescribed by doctors are corticosteroids pills and interferon-beta medications. Corticosteroids are a type of steroid that patients take in pill form. The medication acts as an anti-inflammatory substance that relieves pain and swelling caused by MS.
Interferon-beta medications do not decrease inflammation, but they slow down the progression. Most of the time, doctors will start off their patients with this treatment. Unlike steroid pills, interferon-beta medications are injected into the skin.
Management of Multiple Sclerosis
As patients receive treatment, there are ways they can manage the symptoms experienced by MS. One of the best ways to manage the pain and loss of feeling or movement is through physical therapy sessions. Physical therapy cannot cure MS, but it can help patients relearn how to move and strengthen their bodies.
You can do this by going to a professional that your doctor refers you to or doing some at-home exercises. The thing is, you do need to be careful so you don’t harm yourself. There are also over-the-counter pain killers that can bring temporary relief to the pain associated with MS.
Conclusions on Multiple Sclerosis
In conclusion, MS is a disease that deteriorates your body’s spine, bones, and joints over time. It develops when your immune system no longer works and begins attacking the body instead of foreign objects. This disease is relatively new and there is not a lot of information about it. Scientists still don’t know the exact cause of MS.
Thankfully, there are ways to slow down the progression and treat the symptoms. You don’t have to live in pain with this condition.
- At what age is MS usually detected? MS is most commonly detected between the ages of 20-40.
- Can my MS be treated? Unfortunately, MS is currently not treatable. Most treatments are based on easing the symptoms, but slow deterioration will still take place.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!