- 1 What is multiple sclerosis?
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative autoimmune disease of the central nervous system characterized by the blockage or retention of nerve impulses, with the consequent loss of many bodily functions.
Consequences of multiple sclerosis
This disease is disabling and can cause loss of speech, inability to walk, memory loss, urinary incontinence, etc.
Degeneration of the nervous system due to multiple sclerosis
The lack of nerve impulses is caused by the destruction of myelin, which is the insulating and protective layer of nerve cells. This disease produces inflammation of this layer and subsequent healing with the consequent hardening of it which hinders or prevents nerve transmission.
The disease mainly affects neurons in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve.
Problems usually affect only one part of the body, although they are rarely bilateral.
Who can have multiple sclerosis?
It is a disease that appears more in the female population than in the male and that usually develops between the ages of 20 and 40, although it can appear from the age of 12, especially in women, or at any time in life. From the age of 50, it usually affects men more. There are more than 2.5 million people worldwide who suffer from multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
The disease may have an evolution with constant or similar symptoms, and may also present asymptomatic episodes or with milder symptoms. In some cases, symptoms subside and do not reappear for many years.
The main symptoms are:
- Falling while walking, without tripping over anything
- Muscle stiffness
- Loss of muscle mass
- Tingling sensation
- Tremors in the legs
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of balance
- Double vision (diplopia) due to degeneration of the optic nerve
- Coordination problems
- Difficult walking
- Urinary incontinence
- Difficulty when urinating
- Respiratory problems
- Difficulty when swallowing food
- Difficulty when speaking or pronouncing
- Loss of vision
- Involuntary eye movements.
- Sexual dysfunctions (Lack of sexual desire, impotence, etc.)
- Memory loss
- Decreased reasoning
- Attention problems
Causes of multiple sclerosis
It is an autoimmune degenerative disease, in which the body itself attacks its own nerve cells. Although the real causes of this disease are not known, it is suspected that there are a number of possible factors that could trigger this attack:
- Virus: The most widespread opinion is that this disease could be the result of an autoimmune response of the body itself to a previous viral infection. The body’s own antibodies, previously produced in certain infections such as herpes, Epstein Barr (mononucleosis or kiss disease), measles or rubella, attack the body causing autoimmune reactions that cause inflammation.
- Genetics: It has been found that people with relatives who have this disease are 20 times more likely to develop it.
- Race: There are certain populations that are much more likely to have this disease. The most affected populations are those in North America and Central Europe where 1 in 1,000 people suffer from this disease. Populations in South America, Arabia or Central Asia are the least likely to develop it. It is said that as we move from north to south the percentage of sick people decreases. It is being studied because this phenomenon occurs, if it is a fact determined solely by genetics or other causes such as food, climate, the effect of sunlight or pollutants may also be involved.
- Anger: According to some researchers, this feeling is responsible for the release of chemicals that attack myelin from neurons. However, these mood swings may also be a consequence of the disease, not the cause.
- Nutrition: It is not known whether diet alone can cause multiple sclerosis. However, given the role of diet in the body’s autoimmune response, it can be thought that it plays a very important role, at least as a trigger for symptoms. (More information)
Diagnostics of multiple sclerosis
In the presence of symptoms that can lead to suspicion that a person may be developing this disease, it is important to make a visit to the doctor to diagnose the real causes of these symptoms. An early diagnosis can help stop or improve their subsequent evolution. The application of appropriate treatment at an early stage will help reduce damage to the nervous system.
To properly diagnose the neurologist will perform a complex series of explorations. This diagnosis can be made through MRI, lumbar punctures or medical tests to help rule out other diseases with similar symptoms.
Treatment of multiple sclerosis
The medical treatment involves using a series of drugs for autoimmune factors reduce or ameliorate the symptoms associated with this disease, such as those aimed at reducing depressive symptoms, increase muscle tone or to treat urinary problems.
More information on multiple sclerosis
27 June, 2020