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Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the nervous system, involving the brain and the spinal cord. It damages the surrounding and protecting layers of nerve cells known as myelin sheath. This damage affects the harmonious functioning of the nerve cells. It slows down or blocks messages and signals between brain and peripheral nerves of the body that controls the fine movement of various body parts

Multiple sclerosis: Incidence, age & sex

Multiple sclerosis usually starts developing between the ages of 20 to 50 years, in most cases. It is more common in women than in men.

Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis: Diagnosis

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis may differ from person to person, depending on the involvement of particular nerve cells. Some patients may present with little or no disability over the years whereas others may suffer severe disabilities. The most common symptoms include visual problems like eye pain, loss of vision in one eye and difficulty in color recognition. Other features like inability to walk, imbalance, muscle weakness and numbness. The disease is progressive and may result in loss of bowel or bladder control and problems related to thinking and memory in later stages. Generally the symptoms of multiple sclerosis follow a typical pattern, they tend to appear, subside and reappear. Currently, there is no way to predict the time and severity of relapses.

The diagnosis of the disease is made after detailed medical history and comprehensive neurological examination by a neurologist. The neurologist may also advise MRI scan of brain and/or spinal cord to confirm the diagnosis. Some patients may need to go in for lumbar puncture (spinal tap) for laboratory testing of the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds brain and spinal cord).

Causes and prevention of multiple sclerosis

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is not known. Various hypotheses have been presented regarding the causation of multiple sclerosis, and it seems that environmental, viral and genetic factors play a major role in development of this disorder.

Similarly no true way of preventing multiple sclerosis has been found. Yet controlling triggering factors like over-exhaustion and emotional stress may help in controlling the symptoms and reducing relapsing episodes of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis: Complications

The complications of multiple sclerosis are unpredictable and vary from person to person. The major complications of multiple sclerosis include muscle spasm, paralysis and blindness. Mental problems like forgetfulness and depression may ensue and the patient may become incapable of performing daily tasks.

Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment

At present there is no specific treatment to cure multiple sclerosis, but a variety of treatment procedures are used to slow down the progress of the disease and alleviate the associated symptoms. The medications that work on body’s immune system are given with the purpose of decreasing the frequency and duration of episodes. Symptomatic medicines like anti-depressants and analgesics are given to relieve and control symptoms. Patients having problems of co-ordination, muscle weakness and who are not able to take care of themselves are advised to take physical and occupational therapy.