More than 2.3 million people worldwide, typically between the ages of 20 to 45, have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 1 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with the disease.
1. What Is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
MS is a chronic neurological disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves majorly. Since the disease affects the central nervous system, it can also impact other body parts as well.
The disease makes its progress by affecting myelin, a substance that acts as a protective barrier for the nerve cells—in due course, making these cells vulnerable to damages, affecting the brain’s ability to function properly.
The three different types of MS are:
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): Most common but doesn’t worsen with time.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): Developed by patients with RRMS, causes functional disabilities.
- Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS): Less common but worsens progressively.
2. Causes and Diagnosis
Researchers have failed to identify a definite cause of MS, and diagnosis is also tricky. The symptoms of MS often resemble minor neurological conditions or other ailments, making it difficult to pinpoint the disease.
The absence of specific tests to diagnose the disease has led physicians to follow an exhaustive evaluation pattern that combines clinical tests, MRIs, and neurological signs. Daniel Pelletier, MD, division chief of the USC Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center at Keck Medicine of USC and a professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, says that “Multiple Sclerosis can be diagnosed by looking for the presence of inflammatory markers detected in the spinal fluid.”
3. Symptoms of MS
Unlike other diseases that exhibit similar symptoms in all patients, the symptoms of MS differ from person to person, varying in duration and severity. The variation can depend on age, genes, habits, diet, etc. Here is a list of symptoms MS patients exhibited during the onset (10% of the cases are pediatric-onset) of the neurological disease:
- Muscle weakness
- Sensory difficulties
- Memory disorder
Apart from onset symptoms, MS can also exhibit the following symptoms:
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Impaired cognitive abilities
- Fluctuating mood and dizziness
- Unusual pain and itching
- Tremors, seizures, spasms
The risk of acquiring MS is high in:
- People with MS running in the family
- White people
- Individuals residing in Northern USA and southern Canada
There is no cure for MS. Nevertheless, anti-inflammatory medication along with therapy has proved to be of great help in easing the disease and controlling worsening health as the disease progresses. There are 20 different types of therapy options, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, to choose from.