Multiple sclerosis hits home for many people because either you are suffering from the condition or you know someone who has it. Nearly 400,000 people in the United States have Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis does not only affect Americans, but it affects people worldwide. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects both the brain and spinal cord. It has a direct effect on the nerves. Both the brain and spinal cord are made of nerves. The nerves have a protective covering around them called myelin sheath. The covering helps with the transmission of electrical impulses. It is like insulation around electrical wires. When the insulation is damaged, electricity will not flow properly. When the myelin sheath is damaged, your body subsequently suffers because electrical impulses do not flow through the body properly. Although there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, there are treatments available to slow down the process of the disease.
The skull and vertebrae protect the brain and spinal cord. Soft tissue makes up the brain, but the spinal cord is made up of a bundle of nerve fibers. There is no tissue or anything in the spine, just nerves. These nerves are also spread to the brain and through the whole body. Each nerve has a specific structure that assists with the transmission of electrical pulses. The nerve has three parts: cell body, axon, and dendrites. You may think nerves are all connected, but they are not; they are just very close to one another. Once an electrical impulse is transmitted through the neuron, it releases a chemical across what is called the synaptic gap. This is the gap between neurons. Once the next neuron picks up the chemical, it transmits a response and this process occurs until the body responds accordingly. Each neuron has myelin sheath which covers it and acts as insulation. The myelin sheath helps with the transmission of the electrical pulses. When the myelin sheath is damaged, electrical pulses will not be transmitted properly.
Multiple sclerosis is an immune disorder that causes the body to attack its myelin sheath. This attack on the myelin sheath causes all kinds of health problems. The nerve impulse cannot flow as quickly and efficiently. The impulse is disrupted as it flows through the neuron. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disorder that attacks each neuron one by one. As the disease progresses, it becomes debilitating. Your brain is no longer able to communicate with the rest of the boy. Eventually, the exposed nerve becomes damaged.
There is no specific cause of multiple sclerosis. There are several risk factors, though. Age is one risk factor. Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms may start to show up at as early as 15 years old, or it may not show up until the age of 60. Women are also at a greater risk of contracting the disease. Since multiple sclerosis affects the immune system, you are at a higher risk of developing the disease if you have other immune system related disorders. Heredity also plays a role in the disease. Those who have immediate family members with the disease may be at a higher risk of developing the disease. Sometimes environment and viruses trigger MS in people.
Symptoms & Treatment
The symptoms of MS are dependent upon the stages of MS. In the early stages, you may feel some numbness or weakness in the limbs. You will also notice tingling sensations. These symptoms usually do not cause any alarm because it can happen at any time. When these things become persistent and worsen, you may need to see a physician. As the disease progresses, you will notice blurred vision or a loss of vision. You can have difficulty walking due to unsteadiness and tremors. Fatigue will also take over. You feel weak and tired all throughout the day. You will begin to lose control of your bowels and bladder as well. Eventually, speech becomes slurred. MS is interesting in that it does not constantly attack. It goes through phases of remission and relapse. During the remission phase, you feel like you are cured. There are no symptoms, and you go about your life just fine. If you experience a relapse phase, your symptoms become worse. Sometimes the symptoms in a relapse phase become life-threatening. Doctors try to get ahead of things with the proper treatment.
Treatment focuses on treating symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. When you are experiencing attacks, the doctor focuses on speeding up the recovery process. Steroids and plasma are both used to treat the symptoms of MS. To speed up recovery during relapse, Aubagio and Tysabri are common medications used. Tysabri works specifically to block immune cells that are eating away at the myelin sheath. Tysabri is usually the first line of treatment. Both Tysabri and Aubagio have life-threatening side effects, so they are used with caution. There are other medications used as well, and they all work to reduce relapse by attacking parts of the immune cells that are causing the problem. Along with treatment, the doctor may also have you do physical therapy to help you gain and maintain your strength.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the quality of your life. Some people suffer with it from childhood to adulthood. Others do not even notice symptoms until well into adulthood. The remission and relapse of the disease can put you on this physical rollercoaster. Remission can last for years, but once you get into a relapse stage, the symptoms only progress. MS progresses to the point you are debilitated and maybe even hospitalized. When you do not have myelin sheath to help cover and protect the nerves, your body goes haywire. The brain cannot communicate to the rest of the body properly. If you are experiencing MS symptoms, you should see a neurologist about your problem. Sometimes getting ahead of the disease early on will help slow its progression.
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