What is Multiple Sclerosis? it’s Symptoms and Treatment
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the brain and spinal cord. Early MS symptoms include weakness, tingling, numbness, and blurred vision. Other signs are muscle stiffness, thinking problems, and urinary problems. Treatment can relieve MS symptoms and delay disease progression.The effects are often different for everyone who has the disease. Some people have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment. Others will have trouble getting around and doing daily tasks.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis:
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MS affects the central nervous system, which controls all the actions in the body. When nerve fibers which carry messages to and from the brain are damaged, symptoms may occur in any part of the body.
For some patients, symptoms are so mild that they do not notice anything until much later in the course of the disease. Others may be aware of them very early on.
The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are:
- Bladder problems - patients may have difficulty emptying their bladder completely and need to go to the toilet more frequently. Urge incontinence (suddenly needing to go, or unintentional passing of urine), and Nocturia (needing to go frequently during the night) are also common.
- Bowel problems - constipation is common and can sometimes be serious (fecal impaction). If fecal impaction is not resolved, it can lead to bowel incontinence.
- Cognitive Function - the most commonly reported cognitive changes include problems with memory, abstraction, attention, and word finding.
- Depression - researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles say MS patients have a 50 percent chance of developing depression.
- Emotional Changes - multiple sclerosis may have a profound emotional effect on the individual when a diagnosis is first made. It may be hard to adjust to the diagnosis of such an unpredictable, disabling disorder. Also, demyelination and nerve fiber damage in the brain can cause emotional changes.
- Fatigue - this is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis and affects up to 90 percent of patients. The person's ability to function properly at work and at home may be seriously undermined by fatigue.
- Dizziness and Vertigo - people with MS commonly experience dizziness and problems with balance.
- Head movements may cause electric-shock-like sensations.
- Numbness or weakness - usually in one or more limbs, and typically affects just one side of the body at a time or just the bottom half of the body.
- Pain or tingling in some parts of the body.
- Sexual Dysfunction - loss of interest in sex is common for males and females with multiple sclerosis.
- Spasticity and muscle spasms - damaged nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain can cause muscles to tightly and painfully contract (spasms). Muscles might get stiff and be resistant to movement (spasticity).
- Tremor - involuntary quivering movements.
- Vision Problems - double vision or blurring vision. There may be a partial or total loss of vision, which usually affects one eye at a time. When the eye moves, there is a pain (optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve).Gait changes - gait refers to the way a person walks. Multiple sclerosis can change the way people walk; because their muscles are weaker, they may have problems with balance and dizziness, plus fatigue.
- Less common symptoms:
- Hearing loss
- Respiratory or breathing problems
- Speech disorders
- Swallowing problems
- Later symptoms that may occur:
- Alterations in perception and thinking
- Heat sensitivity
- Muscle spasm
- Sexual dysfunction
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease. Each individual will experience it in different ways. For some, MS starts with a subtle sensation, and it could take months and even years without any MS progression being noticed. For others, however, symptoms worsen much more rapidly - within weeks or months.
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Causes of Multiple Sclerosis:
- The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. It's considered an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In the case of MS, this immune system malfunction destroys myelin (the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord).Myelin can be compared to the insulation coating on electrical wires. When the protective myelin is damaged and nerve fiber is exposed, the messages that travel along that nerve may be slowed or blocked. The nerve may also become damaged itself.It isn't clear why MS develops in some people and not others. A combination of genetics and environmental factors appears to be responsible.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis:
Multiple Sclerosis is Four types:
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS.
- Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). In SPMS, symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions.
- Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). This type of MS is not very common, occurring in about 10% of people with MS. PPMS is characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions2
- Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). A rare form of MS (5%), PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery.
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis:
There are various MS treatment options available today that have been shown to decrease the frequency of relapses and to delay disease progression. There are several ways that these treatment options can be taken. Some treatments use an injection—either subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle)—while others are given intravenously (via an infusion) or orally (by mouth).
- Beta interferons are injectable medications used for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. Certain beta interferon products also may be used for a first clinical episode with MRI findings consistent with MS. Depending on the medication, injections for beta interferons can be either subcutaneous or intramuscular and dosing can vary from every other day to once a week
- Glatiramer acetate is given by subcutaneous injection every day for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. It is also used for patients who have experienced a first clinical episode and have MRI findings consistent with MS
- Fingolimod is a once-daily oral capsule indicated for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations and to delay the accumulation of physical disability
- Teriflunomide is a once-daily oral tablet used for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis
- Dimethyl fumarate is an oral capsule taken twice a day that is used to treat people with relapsing forms of MS
- Mitoxantrone is a chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of worsening relapsing-remitting MS, progressive-relapsing MS or secondary progressive MS, and is used to reduce neurologic disability and/or the frequency of clinical exacerbations. It is administered intravenously by an infusion once every three months
- Natalizumab is an intravenous medication reserved for patients with rapidly progressing MS or with high disease activity despite the use of an alternate MS therapy.
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