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Multiple Sclerosis is a non-fatal neurological disease, effecting nearly 2.1 million people worldwide. MS as its often abbreviated, involves the destruction of myelin tissues and damage to nerve fibers called axons. Myelin is the fatty insulating layer that forms around nerves. Its purpose is to speed the transmission of impulses along nerve cells. MS harshly affects this myelin layer, especially when demyelination takes hold. Demyelination is the hardening and scaring of myelin tissues around the nerve fibers. MS currently has no known cures, and harshly effected by our own immune system. The human immune system recognizes myelin as a pathogen, and therefore causes inflammation and damage within the central nervous system. As a result of this scarring of the myelin and axon tissues various symptoms occur. MS symptoms may vary depending on the person but usually include:
• Weakness, Impaired Balance, Muscle Stiffness, Blurred Vision, Double Vision, Trouble walking, Numb Limbs, and a change in bowel and sexual functions.
Nerve inflammation in the eyes is a common symptom of MS, causing double and blurred vision. Vision loss may also occur as the condition progresses. Muscle weakness and muscle spasms are also a defining symptom of MS. Weakness and heaviness in the limbs is common, as well as difficulty with finger dexterity. Coordination and balance are also harshly effected by MS, with most people having extreme difficulty with walking, keeping their balance, trouble grasping and holding onto small items. Compounding all of these symptoms together can create a grave picture for the diseased.
MS is not the simplest of diseases to diagnose. A diagnosis is based on a history of symptoms over an undetermined period of time. There is no single test available for MS, so a series of methods are conducted and information is aggregated and a diagnosis is made. Common methods used for diagnoses include brain and spinal Column MRI’s, neurological examinations, numerous blood tests, and the exclusion of other illnesses all play a part in the diagnosis of MS.
Multiple sclerosis treatment varies, but usually encompasses the reduction of the number and severity of flares and exacerbations, managing symptoms, treating relapse on an as needed basis, reducing accumulation of lesions, and slowing the progression of muscle and balance disability. MS most harshly affects the brain very early in the disease process and may cause considerable damage even before symptoms begin. It is very important that patients get checked regularly and early treatment is commenced. Various drugs are on the market for the treatment and modification of MS. The FDA has approved six various drugs for the treatment of MS. Even though MS currently has no cure, charities, governments, and private corporations have all allocated millions of dollars in hopes of curing Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis – Highlights. (n.d.).University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/