Multiple Sclerosis, often abbreviated as MS, is a condition that affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. In our nervous system, nerve fibers are protected by a layer called myelin, much like the insulation protection around electrical wires. In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks this myelin later, causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. In some cases, over time the disease can progress and cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nervous system.
Symptoms of MS can vary widely and includes fatigue, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, spasms or stiffness, problems with coordination and balance, and issues with thinking and memory. Some people might also experience problems with their vision, such as blurred or double vision. These symptoms can come and go, and they can also vary in severity
There isn’t a single definitive test for MS. A clinical evaluation comprising of history taking and physical examination is needed first. Thereafter the neurologist will determine if further diagnostic tests such as MRI brain, lumbar puncture, and evoked potential test is needed. MRI scans can help to look for lesions in the brain or spinal cord, that can be suggestive of MS. Lumbar puncture (a spinal tap) is used to analyze the cerebrospinal fluid, which are fluids that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and can give diagnostic clues. A combination of clinical evaluation and investigations is needed before the diagnosis can be determined.
The exact cause of MS is unknown, but it’s believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This means that while certain genes might make a person more susceptible to developing MS, other factors, such as exposure to certain viral infections or lack of vitamin D, may also play a role.
Since the exact cause of MS is unknown, there’s currently no sure way to prevent it. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as avoiding smoking, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet, can generally improve overall health and may potentially reduce the risk of MS. Research is ongoing to better understand what causes MS and how it might be prevented.
While there’s no cure for MS, there are treatments that can help manage one’s symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of disease relapses, and slow the progression of the disease. These treatments can include disease-modifying drugs that target the immune system, medications to manage specific symptoms like fatigue or muscle stiffness, and rehabilitation strategies like physical therapy to help manage symptoms and maintain function. It’s also important for people with MS to maintain a healthy lifestyle, incorporating regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate rest into one’s lifestyle. Research is currently ongoing to find new and more effective treatments, and potentially a cure.
Taken from https://www.mssociety.org.uk/