Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the protective nerves of the body. Here's everything you need to know from a neurologist.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the brain and spinal cord that be a risk for your body functions and can affect the central nervous system. In MS, your own immune system attacks the protective layer that covers nerve fibers and causes communication issues between your brain and the rest of your body, which can be very problematic. Eventually, multiple sclerosis can cause a lot of damage and weakness in the nerves. All the signs and symptoms of this disease are different in every patient and mostly depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are getting damaged.
The patients who are having very severe symptoms of MS might even not be able to walk and some might take a lot of time to cope up with the symptoms. There is no one cure for multiple sclerosis. But, there are treatments that can contribute towards quick recovery and controlling the severity symptoms. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Manish Mahajan, Senior Consultant Neurology & Head of Neuroimmunology, Artemis Agrim Institute of Neurosciences, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, about the types, symptoms, causes and treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis types
There are mainly four types of multiple sclerosis:
1. Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
This is the most common type of MS and is considered as the first stage. The symptoms mostly last for at least 24 hours in the type. If another episode occurs at another point , a doctor will diagnose relapse-remitting MS.
2. Relapse remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS)
This is another common form of MS and most people get affected by this. RRMS triggers episodes of a lot of increasing symptoms and longer periods of remission as well. In this, the symptoms might start disappearing partially or completely.
3. Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)
In this type, the symptoms tend to get worsened without any indication of remissions. Some people might experience stability and periods when symptoms worsen and then get better at times. There are very less cases of PPMS patients.
4. Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)
In secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, the patients will experience episodes of relapse and remission, but the condition will start to progress slowly.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms
Multiple sclerosis signs and symptoms vary from person to person all depending on the damaged nerves and the duration of the disease. As per Dr. Manish, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are:
- Blurry vision
- Loss of vision
- Slurred speech
Multiple sclerosis causes
The cause of multiple sclerosis is not exactly clear but there can be responsible risk factors. It is said to be an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own nerves. In MS, this immune system disease eliminates the fatty substance that is the protective layer of the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord. When the protective layer myelin gets damaged and the nerve fiber is exposed, the communication gets slow or blocked. According to Dr. Manish, the risk factors of multiple sclerosis are:
- Family history
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Autoimmune diseases
Multiple sclerosis diagnosis and treatment
There are no particular series tests for multiple sclerosis. However, to diagnose this chronic disease, the other underlying conditions that might be causing the same symptoms are taken into account. Your doctor might ask about your family medical history to make full diagnosis. The diagnosis is mostly based on the duration of the symptoms and can be confirmed with the help of MRI, CT scan and other brain imaging tests. Diagnosing MS can seem more difficult in people with rare symptoms. In these cases, other tests are done for proper spinal fluid analysis.
As mentioned above, there is no one cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment mostly aims on speeding recovery from episodes, slowing the progression of the disease and managing the severe symptoms of MS. Some people have very mild symptoms for which treatment might not be necessary but you have to talk to your doctor. It is always best to prevent this chronic disease. Physical therapy and certain medications can be adviced by your doctor to reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. You should engage in enough physical activity and consume a balanced diet to relieve the signs and symptoms.
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