What is MS?

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MS is an abbreviation for Multiple Sclerosis which means many scars. This is a terminal disease that affects the central nervous system, which means it affects the brain and spinal chord for a life time. MS is the most common nervous disease among young adults and is estimated to affect slightly more than 2.5 million people around the world. Unfortunately the disease still has no cure though there are drugs available to help in controlling its symptoms. MS affects more women than men at a ratio of 2:3 in favor of men.

Scientists link the cause of MS to the immune system damaging the central nervous system by attacking myelin which is the substance that helps the nerves communicate with the brain. Myelin is a fatty coating on the nerves and an integral part of the transmission of impulses to the brain. When the immune system attacks the myelin, it will cause varying degrees of damage and this significantly impedes the communication between the body and brain. The areas which have myelin damaged will normally develop hardened scars, this is actually where the disease gets its name as there are many scars on the nervous system. Having poor communication between the brain and body means that there will be reduced ability in movement and coordination. This will affect both conscious and unconscious movements and coordination. These include walking, breathing, eye sight, memory and all other functions that are controlled via the brain.

MS is a disease with very many and varied symptoms. A disease that has so many different symptoms that are in most cases unique in individual cases, poses a challenge in diagnosis since different people will exhibit different symptoms at different stages of the disease. Some of the symptoms of the disease are dizziness, fatigue, poor vision, bladder problems, numbness, mood swings, sexual problems, muscle stiffness, problems with balance, difficult swallowing and inhibited speech as well as many others. Looking at all the symptoms exhibited it is obvious that they are attributable to the reduced communication between the body and brain. However it is not always that having some of these symptoms will mean you are having MS. It is also important to note that these symptoms could appear individually or in combinations and will vary in severity in each case and even in one patient.

There are three main types of MS which have individual characteristics and will again vary in severity on a per case basis. Two people having the same type of MS may not exhibit similar symptoms nor have the same level of severity. The three types of multiple sclerosis are Relapsing Remitting MS where symptoms appear and then disappear either partially or fully. Secondary Progressive MS normally starts off in a similar manner to Relapsing Remitting MS only that there is progression in symptoms and severity as time goes by. Primary Progressive MS has a continuous progression of symptoms and severity over time.

It is very important to point out that Multiple Sclerosis is not a contagious disease and neither is it hereditary. In case you suspect you could be having MS, it is important that you see a neurologist for proper diagnosis and treatment while avoiding infections, excess heat, stress and fatigue.

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