Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which brain or spinal cord is affected. This may cause a good number of symptoms including vision problems, arm or leg movements issues and sensation or balance problems etc. Though it is occasionally mild, it may cause severe disabilities at its grown form. Moreover, it has the tendency to cut off the life expectancy for patients diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis
The variation for its symptoms may not even require the patients any treatments to those needing everyday tasks. It is a confusing disease because not only the symptoms vary from person to person but also throughout a single patient’s life. Therefore, it is one of the hard to diagnose diseases.
Multiple Sclerosis Causes
The plain fact is that there is no known cause of multiple sclerosis. It is one of those conditions in which the patient’s own immune system starts to attack their own tissues. Myelin is a substance responsible for keeping the brain and spinal cord fibers safe. What happens in multiple sclerosis is that the immune system erroneously damages the myelin.
To take another look at multiple sclerosis, think of the electrical wires with insulation coating. When the MS destroys the myelin, the message carrying system is also disturbed or slowed down in some cases. In some cases, the nerve itself is damaged, which may lead to extreme symptoms. [i]
While the exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, it is speculated that a few genetic and environmental factors may be responsible for causing it. Men are half as likely to fall prey of multiple sclerosis as women. Besides that, there are a few viruses and infections that are linked with multiple sclerosis such as Epstein-Barr virus.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms
This disease has the most confusing symptoms, which makes it very hard to diagnose. This is because the symptoms shown by every patient differ from each other. Furthermore, the symptoms of the same patient vary greatly with time. These symptoms may include:
- One of more than one limbs going numb or feeling weak. In most of the cases, it happens in one side of the body.
- Pain in one or both the eyes with visual impairment or even complete vision loss.
- Optic neuritis – a condition that damages the nerve joining the brain to the eye. As a result, you may experience color blindness and pain in the eyes while moving them. [ii]
- Bladder problems including constipation or having trouble while emptying your bladder.
- Dizziness or clumsiness leading to trouble in walking
- Depressing and raised level of stress
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Diagnosis
There are no specific tests for multiple sclerosis. However, the doctors may use differential diagnosis – a procedure of ruling out different conditions producing similar symptoms. The doctor is more likely to go with the book and start with your medical history. This includes the simple blood tests and lumbar puncture. Also known as spinal tap, a part of the patient’s spinal canal is taken out for examination and possible abnormalities in antibodies. In some cases, the doctors may even ask for an MRI to reveal a detailed picture of brain and spinal cord.
There is no known cause of multiple sclerosis. The treatment that doctors recommend usually involves controlling the symptoms. In most of the cases, the symptoms are not that extreme, so the doctor may seem fit to go with no treatment at all.
As long as the medications are concerned, the doctors may start with Corticosteroids. Their main objective is to decrease the level of nerve inflammation. However, they may show side effects such as insomnia, mood swings and a rise in blood pressure. [iii]
Plasmapheresis is another option for the doctors in which a bit of plasma (blood) is taken out for examination. The examination includes mixing of the blood cells and albumin. However, this type of treatment is only beneficial in cases where the symptoms are relatively new.
Then there are treatments to modify progression. The first in line and the only effective and FDA approved one is ocrelizumab. The main function of this type of treatment is to slow down the process of disability in people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
There are a few treatment options for people with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis. These include:
One of the most commonly prescribed medications in order to treat multiple sclerosis, these are injected either into the muscles or directly into the skin. These are known for decreasing the frequency and intensity of the relapses. Some patients may show a few side effects including reactions to injections and flu-like symptoms.
This is the only FDA approved DMT that is known for curing the relapse-remitting and the primary stage multiple sclerosis. There are many clinical trials showing that Ocrelizumab not only decreased the disability rate but also diminished relapse rate as well.
Depending on the symptoms and condition of the patient, doctors may seem fit to prescribe Tecfidera. This is an oral medication that you may be asked to take on daily basis. However, it is recommended to start taking this with consultation of your doctor as you may experience side effects. Side effects include diarrhea and nausea etc.
The special thing about this drug is that it targets a protein on immune cells’ surface. It is also known for depleting white blood cells. As a result, the nerve damage is significantly decreased. However, if not taken with the consultation of the doctor, the effect may be reversed and it may cause infections.
Physical therapy is an option if medications are not the first priority. Usually a therapist may instruct you some exercises and make daily life tasks easier for you. In some cases, the doctors may seem fit to prescribe muscle relaxants to the patients. This is to provide relief to the patients with muscle pains and stiffness. Please don’t hesitate to ask your doctors any questions you might have. Take every medication with the approval of your doctor.