Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a long-lasting immune-mediated disease that affects 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.3 million people worldwide. It occurs when the body has an abnormal response of the immune system and attacks the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis requires a medical diagnosis, and the disease occurs mostly in people around 20-50 years old. Some people have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment, while others who have MS have more serious symptoms and need help getting around and doing daily tasks. It can cause everything from fatigue to trouble walking and blurred vision.
There are three types of MS:
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) – symptoms appear out of the blue and can be severe
- Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS) – the disease progresses more steadily
- Primary-progressive MS (PPMS) – symptoms start out mild and gradually worsen over time
Multiple Sclerosis Causes
The exact cause of Multiple Sclerosis isn’t known, however doctors and scientists believe several different factors play a role in the development of MS. They are studying immunology, environmental factors, epidemiology (the study of diseases in the population) as well as genetics. Growing evidence shows that vitamin D may play an important role in strengthening the body’s immune function, and those that live closer to the equator and have higher levels of vitamin D have shown less occurrence of MS. Also, smoking has shown to play a role – it increases a person’s chances of developing MS. These are just a few of the factors being studied.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Symptoms of MS can vary and be unpredictable – no two people have the exact same symptoms, and those symptoms change over time. Below are some of the common symptoms that many people with MS experience:
- Numbness or tingling
- Walking difficulties
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Vision problems
- Bladder problems
- Muscle spasms, stiffness
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Cognitive changes
- Emotional changes
The Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
Traditional treatment for Multiple Sclerosis is an ongoing process that includes medication to help manage various symptoms, as well as physical therapy.