- How to Get MS
- First Signs
- Life Expectancy
How do you get multiple sclerosis?
Within the CNS, the immune system attacks and damages the fatty substance that surrounds, insulates and protects the nerve cell (myelin sheath). This damage to nerve cells is known as demyelination. This results in the inability of the brain and its electrical impulses to perform normally, causing various nerve-related symptoms of MS. The damaged areas develop multiple areas of scarring of the brain and spinal cord, which gives the disease its name.
MS is one of the most common causes of non-injurious disability in young and middle-aged adults.
The exact cause of the disease is unknown; however, scientists believe that a combination of factors triggers MS, including:
What are the very first signs of multiple sclerosis?
The prominent feature of MS is what is called an “attack” wherein symptoms occur and then resolve (remit) and may appear again (relapse) sometimes months or years apart affecting different organs. The most common symptoms are:
- Sensory loss
- Fatigue (occurs in nearly 80 percent of patients)
- Walking difficulties
- Numbness of the face, arms, and legs
- Muscle spasms in the leg
- Deterioration of unused muscle leading to muscle weakness
- Dizziness and lightheadedness are commonly seen in patients with MS
- Sexual problems
- Loss of bowel control
- Loss of bladder control
- Chronic pain and itching (noted in 55 percent of patients)
- Memory loss
- Analytical and problem-solving ability starts diminishing
- Significant depression, mood swings, irritability, and other emotional changes
Less common symptoms seen are:
- Slurring speech (dysarthria) and loss of volume (dysphonia)
- Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)
- Vigorous shaking (tremor)
- Sudden uncontrollable vigorous jerking (seizures)
- Breathing difficulty
- Hearing loss or impaired hearing
Secondary symptoms that occur as a complication of the above symptoms are:
What are the different types of multiple sclerosis?
There are four types of MS, based on the relapse rate and time to disease progression:
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS): A recurrent attack is the characteristic of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis RRMS (which resolves completely on treatment). The relapse period may last for weeks to years.
- Secondary progressive MS (SPMS): Secondary progressive MS (SPMS) occurs when patients with RRMS develop a rapid worsening of the disease. It does not respond to the currently available treatment.
- Primary progressive MS (PPMS): Primary progressive MS accounts for approximately 10 percent of patients with MS in which the function diminishes gradually without relapses.
- Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS): In progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS) bouts of symptoms overlay the progressing disease. It accounts for 5% of the total MS cases.
What tests help in diagnosing multiple sclerosis?
Currently, there are no specific symptoms, physical findings, or laboratory tests that are used to diagnose MS. However, approaches for diagnosing MS include:
- taking a medical history
- a nerve-related examination
- various imaging tests, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- spinal fluid analysis
- blood tests to rule out any underlying conditions
What is the life expectancy for a person with multiple sclerosis?
MS, if untreated, can lead to physical disability within 20-25 years after onset. The survival rate in MS is correlated with disability. Patients with MS have a high risk of falling; hence care should be taken to prevent falling.
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