Multiple Sclerosis

by Nari Mathis

Multiple sclerosis (otherwise known as MS) is an "immune mediated process" where something goes wrong within the immune system, and it is directed to destroying the myelin sheath, (the fatty substance protecting the neural impulse), within the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, therefore slowly ruining motor control.

How is MS thought to develop?

The cause of multiple sclerosis is currently unknown.

It may be congenital, but usually develops over time.

Scientists are currently researching and trying to find which immune system cells are attacking the myelin sheath directly, so that they could eliminate or stop them from destroying the precious protection.

It is not genetic, but if your parent has the disease, it does increase the chances of you also having it.

Recent studies also say that people farther away from the equator also have a larger chance of getting MS. Some scientists think that vitamin D has an important factor within whether the disease is contracted or not. It hasn't been proven fully yet, but Vitamin D helps the immune system, so they have somewhere to go off of.

And finally, viruses might be the trigger for the disease, already attacking the immune system and nerves, causing MS to follow.

What role does the immune system supposedly play in the development of this disease?

The immune system attacks it's own tissues. It also destroys the myelin sheath, which is a fatty substance that protects the axon. The neural impulse travels along this, protected by the myelin, but if the myelin sheath is gone, then there are several different things that could happen. The body begins to not receive "messages" from the CNS, which controls most of our body and mind. So in MS, the body loses motor control.
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What are the symptoms of MS?

  • Weakness in one or more limbs
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, lengthened double vision
  • Tingling or pain
  • Electric-shock sensations (especially when the neck is moved)
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady walk
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with bowel and bladder function
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What is done to treat the symptoms? What medications or other treatments are available?

There multiple different treatments and medications that can help someone with MS. Medications can help lessen MS attacks and maybe slow down the disease. Physical therapy can also help to control the symptoms.

Just one of the medications are Interferon drugs. They can be used to help reduce the activation of immune system cells and slow them across the blood brain barrier into the CNS. Interferons are naturally occurring proteins that help the body's defense against viral infections. (Although they have a relatively strong safety record, the FDA still has some warnings and precautions about them).

  • Avonex (interferon beta-1a)

Avonex reduces the frequency of relapses within MS, the number of lesions (a region in an organ or tissue that has suffered damage through injury or disease, such as a wound), and slows disease progression.

  • Rebif (interferon beta-1a)

This also helps to reduce the frequency of relapses and the number of lesions, and (new) slows the progression of disability.

  • Betaseron and Extavia (interferon beta-1b)

Betaseron too reduces the frequency of relapses and the number of lesions.

Extavia is the same drug, but under a different brand name, but does the same thing.

When MS begins to cause Spasticity, stiff muscles and spasms, physical therapy is suggested. They will use a basic stretching program, which lengthens the muscles to ease the condition.

Is MS genetic?

No, it is not genetic, but if your parent has MS, it increases your chances of getting the disease as well.

How many people re currently living with MS? Is there any sort of global pattern?

Around more than 400,000 people in the United States have the disease, and 2.5 million in the world have MS. Approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed each week in the US. People who live farther from the equator have a higher rate of having MS.

Is there a cure?

There currently isn't a cure for MS, but physical therapy and medications can help with the symptoms and slow the progression.

Is life expectancy affected?

Even if there is no cure, the good news is that life expectancy is not a deadly disease. Most patients with MS live about the same amount as other people.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis - Emma
What stood out to me the most in that video is that in the beginning, she was talking about when she was diagnosed and that she didn't really take it seriously and didn't even know what the disease was, and yet there she was with MS. It could happen to anyone, and even if there are certain factors that lead towards a certain group of people, that's just an observation, the disease won't follow that exact order. The woman also mention that sometimes she'll have something to say, but she won't actually be able to say it, and personally I think that's one of the worst parts of that disease. You have all these thoughts within you, and you want to say them, but you can't and the words are at the tip of your tongue. It seems like a nightmare, but it's amazing that she is almost able to live life as if she didn't have MS.

I think it's important that the public should know that this disease won't completely ruin your life forever. You might have to change how you live, but that doesn't mean you'll never be able to do anything ever again. You can go to physical therapy to learn how to control and make your symptoms better, and now at this day and age, there are medications that can help slow down the disease. People mention that they're angry that they have it, that they have so much living left in them. Say you had MS and still wanted to go to the Great Wall of China, but there was no way you could walk all those miles on it. Then get your wheelchair and someone with real strong arms, and get ready for the ride of your life.

Works Cited

“Definition of MS.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2016. <>.

“4 Possible Causes of MS.” Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2016. <>.

“Help Me Spread Awareness of MS.” Go Fund Me. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2016. <>.

“MS.” Aaron Attacks MS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2016. <>.

“Multiple Sclerosis.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2016. <>.

“Multiple Sclerosis Health Care.” WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2016. <>.

“What Does MS Do to Your Brain?” New Life Outlook. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2016. <>.

“What Do You Want to Know about Multiple Sclerosis?” Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2016. <>.

“Why Does Destruction of the Myelin Sheath Affect Motor Control?” eHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2016. <>.