What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, that can range can range from relatively benign to somewhat disabling to devastating, as communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted. Many investigators believe MS to be an autoimmune disease -- one in which the body, through its immune system, launches a defensive attack against its own tissues. In the case of MS, it is the nerve-insulating myelin that comes under assault. Such assaults may be linked to an unknown environmental trigger, perhaps a virus.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40.
- The initial symptom of MS is often blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion, or even blindness in one eye.
- Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis.
- Most people with MS also exhibit typically tingling or "pins and needles" sensations.
- Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints.
- Approximately half of all people with MS experience difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked.
- Depression is another common feature of MS.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Many effective medications are available for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). These types of drugs may be prescribed to slow MS activity and progression; to reduce the severity and duration of a relapse; and to treat the symptoms of MS individually. All of these medications are prescribed by a physician – usually a neurologist who specializes in MS. Individuals considering a change to their present treatment regimen should always consult their physician.
As up to 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis experience problems with walking, poor balance and fatigue which can increase their risk for falls. Physical and occupational therapy are often recommended to improve strength and mobility to help maintain function.