by Nari Mathis
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?
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
- Problems with bowel and bladder function
What is done to treat the symptoms? What medications or other treatments are available?
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?
How many people re currently living with MS? Is there any sort of global pattern?
Women are two to three times more likely to get MS.
MS usually begins to form between these ages.
People of or from Northern European descent have the highest chance of being afflicted with 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?
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.
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