- Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder that affects approximately 2.5 million people worldwide. In this disorder, the body’s immune system works against the central nervous system – the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Such a condition is called autoimmune disease. Normally, the immune system defends our body against attack from foreign elements. The cells involved in immunity target and destroy foreign bodies such as bacteria and other pathogens. But in MS, the immune system mistakes myelin (a fatty layer that protects nerve fibers) for a foreign substance and destroys it. This is why multiple sclerosis is also called demyelinating disorder.
Why does the body offend the myelin mantle?
It is still not clear why the immune system attacks the myelin substance originating in the human body. Scientists suggest environmental and genetic factors for this behavior of the immune system. Some researchers also believe that certain viruses can cause this disease. However, there is no solid scientific basis for this hypothesis.
- Multiple sclerosis does not have a specific presentation model
The disease presents with different symptoms in different patients. There is no precise order in which the symptoms appear. In some patients, symptoms are mild and go unnoticed in the early stages, while in others, the disturbing symptoms appear earlier and may last for some time. Although the disease can affect people of all ages, the first symptoms usually appear between the ages of 20 and 40.
Symptoms depend on which part of the nervous system is affected. Symptoms usually include visual disturbances, tingling, numbness, bladder and bowel disturbance, dizziness, fatigue, loss of balance, cognitive impairment, emotional changes, muscle cramps, and sexual dysfunction.
Another peculiarity of MS is that it is not possible to predict the progression of the disease. Some people may have a symptom that lasts for a while and then goes away. They may have no other symptoms for years. While in others there may be rapid progression of the disease so that they may appear with many symptoms within a limited period.
- Multiple sclerosis is difficult to diagnose
There is no specific laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The symptoms of MS are not specific to this disease. In addition, it is very difficult to establish this diagnosis after a single episode of symptomatic attack. The other possible causes of these symptoms must be ruled out before arriving at the diagnosis of MS. There are different criteria on which the disease can be confirmed. A careful neurological examination is a fundamental requirement for an accurate diagnosis of MS.
There is also a need for damage to the central nervous system to be confirmed by additional methods such as imaging techniques, CSF analysis, and other specific neurological studies. MRI is the best imaging technique to confirm that damage has occurred. Another advantage of MRI is that it helps locate the site of damage. This when corresponds to the neurological symptom present in the patient, the diagnosis is confirmed.
- Multiple sclerosis has no cure at present
The treatment options available are aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. Medications for symptom management, disease-modifying medications, alternative therapies, and diet and lifestyle changes all aim to improve the “quality of life” of suffering patients. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for the disease.