November 24, 2015
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Drugs Used for Treating Multiple Sclerosis

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Introduction to drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that leads to the degeneration of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The immune or infection-fighting system in MS patients attacks the body's own cells, causing progressive damage in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of MS include vision problems, muscle weakness, trouble walking or speaking, numbness and tingling, problems related to bowel or bladder control, and others. Although MS was first identified over a century ago, a cure still remains to be found. Available therapies help improve patients overall quality of life and minimize long term disability (by reducing inflammation, delaying the progression of the disease, reducing the frequency and severity of acute attacks, and improving walking speed). Physical, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapy also are used for improving function.

What are steroids, and which ones are available?

Steroids available for the treatment of MS include:

Steroids are mainly used for treating acute episodes of MS. Steroids help to reduce the body's autoimmune response. In doing so, steroids help to shorten the length of an attack, and rapidly reduce inflammation. Since their use is associated with significant long-term side effects, steroids are used only for short periods of time. Side effects of steroids include psychosis, bloating, insomnia (sleeping problems), headache, bone loss, suppression of the immune system, moon (rounded) face, stomach ulcers, and increases in blood sugar.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/3/2015

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