Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as M.S. is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. It particularly affects the transmission of information within the brain, as well as between the brain and the body. In people with MS, their immune system attacks the nerve fibers and myelin. Myelin is the fatty substance that acts as their buffer. Damage to the nerve fibers and consequent formation of scar tissue disrupts the flow of nerve impulses across the body.
Numbness and tingling in the limbs and face are one of the first symptoms that appear in MS patients. Other parts of the body may experience this sensation as well. The "pins and needles" sensation may be mildly annoying or so intense that it is incapacitating. In cases where these symptoms are severe, individuals may face difficulty in performing routine, day-to-day tasks. Medication may help to restore feeling. However, there is no cure to alleviate numbness and tingling.
A large majority of MS patients report having muscle spasms at some point. These are sharp, involuntary twitches of muscle groups usually affecting legs, however, other body parts may experience spasms as well. Frequent and severe muscle spasms may be debilitating. Most individuals suffering from MS also feel stiffness in the region prone to spasms. Fortunately, there are several ways of achieving relief from MS-triggered muscle spasms, including medication, physiotherapy, and alternative remedies.
It is common for people with MS to feel light-headed or to suffer from episodes of vertigo. Both vertigo and dizziness put patients at risk of losing their balance and becoming injured due to falls. Experts suggest that such MS symptoms imply that there is a lesion in the brain stem or cerebellum. Treatment for vertigo and dizziness involves over-the-counter medication for motion sickness in mild cases and of corticosteroids in severe cases.
A majority of MS patients complain of problems with bladder and bowel function. Bladder dysfunction manifests as the urge to urinate frequently, loss of control over bladder release and, in a few cases, even difficulty with emptying the bladder. Constipation is a common complaint among MS patients as well. Patients can normally get these symptoms under control with diet modification and an increase in fluid intake. However, in some cases, prescription medication may be necessary.
Vision-related problems are common and very widely experienced in those with MS. There are three conditions which commonly affect these patients:
In many cases, the abnormal vision corrects itself over time. However, if symptoms become extremely problematic and impede daily functioning, doctors may prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms.
Over 80% of individuals suffering from MS find themselves extremely prone to fatigue and lack of energy. It may be secondary to sleep deprivation caused by frequent night urination and nocturnal spasms. Depression caused by the MS may also be responsible for low energy levels. Another form of tiredness called lassitude may be present. Lassitude is fatigue that occurs on a daily basis. It may come on in the mornings even after getting adequate sleep. It usually worsens as the day goes by and is likely to worsen with exposure to heat and humidity. Lassitude is an intense and debilitating form of fatigue that tends to affect one's professional and personal lives in major ways. For alleviation of this condition, it is best to consult with an experienced physician, since a number of causes may underlie MS-based fatigue.
As MS affects the central nervous system, patients are most likely going to experience a combination of cognitive symptoms. The impact of MS on the nervous system can present in a number of ways. For example, patients can experience memory loss or lapses, language issues, an inability to concentrate, deteriorated focus, shortened attention span, disorganization issues or problems with making decisions. These impairments can increase irritability in the patients and lead to depression, therefore resulting in withdrawal and fatigue.
When dealing with MS, patients can experience problems related to sexual desire and function. Those with MS can have a decreased sexual drive, and the drive may disappear completely over time. Sex can become a major challenge in patients with MS and their partners, as it affects the central nervous system.
MS doesn't just take a toll on people's physical health, but also on their emotional health. Multiple sclerosis sufferers have to deal with mood swings, irritability, and depression. This condition can affect people's independence and mobility, as well as their personal relationships, which contributes to depression. Additionally, episodes of uncontrollable laughing and crying are also quite common.
MS lesions leads to the development of lesions in the cerebral cortex. Which are the outermost neural tissues that cover the cerebrum, and the largest part of the brain. Patients with MS can experience epileptic-type seizures as a result of these lesions. As a matter of fact, the risk of seizures is extremely high in patients suffering from MS.
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