Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the nervous system that affects the brain and the spinal cord. In this condition, the nerve fibers and myelin sheathing (the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers) are being attacked by the immune system. This results in inflammation, disrupting nerve cell processes. MS can be a highly debilitating disease.
- The nerve cells in the body are covered by a myelin sheath.
- Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. Meaning, the healthy cells are being attacked by the body’s immune system.
- There are about 2 million people affected by Multiple Sclerosis in the entire world.
- The cause of MS is unknown.
- Women are more frequently affected.
- There is no known cure for MS.
- Initial symptoms are blurry/double vision. Next is distortion in red-green color and blindness in one eye.
- Common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis:
- Muscle weakness
- Visual disturbance
- Having problems with balance and coordination
- Memory and thinking problems
- Numbness, pricking, or “needles and pins sensations”
1. Disease Course
MS is broken down into categories based on the disease course:
- Relapsing-remitting (RR): Initial onset of the disease. Symptoms may last up to 48 hours. It develops for over days to weeks. Almost 70 percent of patients show this course.
- Primary progressive (PP): This course has a gradual deteriorating change from the onset. Almost 20 percent of the patients experience this. There is no relapse in this course.
- Secondary progressive (SP): Relapses of symptoms can be experienced in this course. The symptoms are muscle weakness or memory problems. There is a gradual deterioration from the onset of the RR course.
- Progressive relapsing (PR): the pattern is the same as in the SP course. This can be seen in almost 5 percent of patients.
- Clinically isolated syndrome: the classification of this course is inflammatory CNS demyelination.
- Fulminant: this course of the disease is characterized by severe multiple sclerosis. Multiple relapses are seen in this course that may lead to disability.
- Benign: this course of the disease is characterized by mild disability and relapses are not very rare.
2. Risk Factors
- Family history
- Certain infections
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Certain autoimmune diseases
3. Signs and Symptoms
- Vision problems
- Muscle weakness
- Tingling sensation
- Bladder control problems
- Intermittent or constant dizziness
- Mental or physical fatigue
- Mood changes
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Pain: this is rarely felt. Yet, most times it is experienced with optic neuritis and trigeminal neuralgia
Other signs and symptoms
- Speech difficulties
- Swallowing disorders
- Pseudobulbar affect
- Sleep issues
- Uhthoff’s syndrome
New symptoms are progressing when a relapse of the symptoms occurs. This can be mild or severe to the extent that the patient may have difficulty in dealing with activities of daily living.