Multiple sclerosis is a terrible disease that leads to damage of the protective coverings of nerves. This leads to lack of function between the brain and spinal cord, which can cause problems throughout the entire body due to the inability for nerve impulses to travel normally. The actual cause of multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, has still not been discovered, so there is no effective way to ensure that people are living and maintaining their health in a way so as to deter the disease and its effects. Its effects on patients can vary, but many experience complete paralysis in many parts of the body.
Over two million people across the globe are affected to some extent by multiple sclerosis. In fact, somewhere around 200 people each and every week are diagnosed with the disease to various degrees. While anyone can have multiple sclerosis, more women than men seem to have the disease, even though there is no known predisposition for this that can be scientifically proven. For a disease that has been around for a very long time, there is still so much to be learned about MS, which is why charitable organizations for research of the disease and its symptoms are extremely important.
There is still currently no known cause for MS. Scientists cannot determine absolutely if it isn’t hereditary. However, it does seem that most physicians and researchers can agree that some of the factors that could influence a person having multiple sclerosis are the person’s immune system, some types of genetics, viral causes and environmental issues. As that it is extremely difficult to devise a cure when the cause is not known, researchers and scientists continue to attempt to pinpoint exactly why this disease occurs in certain individuals. Until then, this disease sadly affects millions without any real rhyme or reason.
Four types of multiple sclerosis exist. The most common form is relapsing-remitting, where patients have periods of remission before the disease flares up again. In fact, about 85% of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis have relapsing-remitting MS. The other types are relapsing-progressive, secondary-progressive and primary-progressive, and they are varying degrees of MS that do not often have remissions. Fortunately, these three forms of the disease are much rarer than relapsing-remitting, but they do have symptoms that continue to progress, typically very steadily, over time. Many patients with MS even seem to follow a course of symptoms and their progression, although this can often vary from patient to patient.
Multiple sclerosis has many symptoms, as many diseases do. However, what is very different with MS is that the symptoms can vary greatly between patients, with many experiencing uncommon alarms to the disease. Many symptoms that are experienced include issues with vision, the bladder, tiredness, weakness in the arms and legs, tingling feelings, sudden change in temperature, imbalance, muscle spasms, shaking hands and severe depression. Many people also experience forgetfulness and cloudy thinking, also sometimes leading to memory loss. There is no real reason why some patients may experience some symptoms and may not have others. It is yet another question regarding MS that has yet to be answered.
Some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can come and go, but sometimes for entirely different reasons. The common symptoms, like tiredness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs can seem to flare up when a person who has multiple sclerosis is tired or has been fighting off a sickness or some sort of virus or infection. However, relapse systems occur when the disease creates some new type of damage to the body. Sometimes these symptoms can be treated, and if so, they may even go away completely. When this happens, the body may enter a period of remission.
While the symptoms of multiple sclerosis often steadily progress over time, the disease itself, as well as its symptoms, can be treated. Do not, however, confuse this for a cure, because there is no cure for this disease, and the damage caused to the body cannot typically be reversed. But due to many medical advances throughout the years, doctors do not only have to depend on large doses of steroids to provide a given effect. There are many medications that can now be taken to help with the symptoms of MS, and some of these medications can even help to slow down the progression of the disease.
While most people think that the significant damage caused by multiple sclerosis is to the body, the damage to the mind and its processes can be very severe. When nerve impulses cannot properly reach the brain, it can make normal functions very difficult. People who suffer from MS often experience loss of memory, whether temporary or permanent. They may also struggle in conversation, often searching a long time for the right words to say. They also sometimes find it difficult to keep focus, finding that their attention often drifts and they tend to “space out”. These problems may often lead to depression, as well.
As we already mentioned, the treatments for multiple sclerosis have greatly evolved over the years. However, the most significant change has been with the medications that are now offered for the disease, called disease-modifying drugs. Interferons, which are administered by form of an injection, keep the immune cells from finding their way into the brain and the spinal cord, where they can cause even more damage to the nerve coverings. Many new medications were brought onto the market in 2012, and some can be taken by mouth only a few times per year.
Many people, when first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, assume the absolute worst. Of course, there are many reasons for this, including the stress of finding out that they do have MS and the overall perception of the disease. However, only about two-thirds of people with multiple sclerosis lose the absolute loss of their legs. While many may need a cane or another walking aid to maintain their balance, their legs are still able to function to some degree. Of course, the disease affects so many people differently, that there is never really any indication to which level MS may affect a certain patient.
While again, there still is no cure for multiple sclerosis, the outcome is looking a little bit better these days. Some lifestyle changes may actually help, such as easting a healthier diet and trying to be as active as possible. Some symptoms that seem to really be able to trigger the disease are heat, infections and stress. Therefore, a person with MS should try to be as stress-free as possible, even if their emotions must be medically controlled. A patient should also avoid any situations where they can contract a sickness, as that this could potentially cause the disease to flare up.
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