Multiple sclerosis refers to the disease which disables the central nervous system (spinal cord & brain). The immune system attacks the myelin sheath which covers and protects the fibers. Also, this sheet causes issues related to communication between the body and brain. In case of prolonged or severe condition, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can damage the overall nerves on a permanent basis.
Symptoms and signs of the disease may vary on the basis of different factors. They may include the nerves that are damaged and also the amount of damage in the nerves. In some cases, MS patients can lose their capability to walk alone. Some other patients experience prolong remission without any observable signs. You should know the fact that no cure is available for the treatment but the condition of the patient can be managed by using medicines. Latest treatment options can be helpful in speedy recovery from the fits and also in the management of symptoms.
Further, this article discusses what Multiple Sclerosis is, signs & symptoms, causes, treatment options, etc. in detail!
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis refers to the disease which affects your central nervous system includes optic nerves, spinal cord, and brain. It damages your vision, the capability to maintain balance, muscle control, and other related body functioning.
However, it affects every individual differently. Its effects depend on which stage of the disease you are at the moment. This chronic disease may affect your daily activities badly.
Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of the disease may differ for every individual. Different factors play their part in the onset of the disease. Also, the signs depend on the area of your body which got damaged because of this disease. Usually, the disease affects movement and balance. Also, it may damage patient’s vision.
Following are the symptoms if it affects your movement.
- Lack of coordination in body muscles and joints
- The sensation of having electric shocks in the neck whenever you want to move it
- Weakness or numbness in your limbs which usually happens at one side of the body at a time
Following symptoms may reveal if MS affects your vision.
- Blurry vision
- Double vision for a long time period
- Complete or partial loss of vision. Usually, it happens in one eye at a time. You may also experience pain while moving your eye.
Some other symptoms of the disease may include;
- Slurred speech
- Issues in bladder or bowel function
- Difficult in sexual activities
- Pain or tingling in different body parts
When Should You Visit A Doctor?
It is highly recommended to visit your doctor when you usually experience one or more above-mentioned symptoms.
It is important to know that most patients with Multiple Sclerosis have a disease course of relapsing-remitting. Such patients experience new symptoms of relapses of old symptoms over days or weeks. Usually, they seem to improve completely or at least partially. The relapse time period may remain for months or years.
The patients may suffer from a slight increase in the body temperature but it can worsen the symptoms and signs of the disease. Hence, such issues aren’t considered as something which can affect the relapses of disease. According to experts, almost 60-70 percent of the individuals with such kind of MS become successful in developing the steady progression of the symptoms. It is recognized as the secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
- Primary-Progressive MS
The person suffering from primary-progressive MS may experience the gradual and study onset and progression of the symptoms & signs of the disease.
- Secondary-Progressive MS
Usually, the patient may experience gait and mobility as a result of the worsening of the condition. Still, the rate of increase of the disease depends on different factors.
The exact cause of the ailment is still not known. This disease comes under the category of autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks its tissues. In case of this specific disease, the malfunction in the immune system destroys the substance which works for the protection of nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain. If you are in search of the exact causes of this disease, unfortunately, they are not known until now. A combination of the environment and genetic factors can be responsible for the onset of this ailment.
Following is the list of the risk factors which may increase the onset of the disease. Have a look!
- Family history
- Specific infections
- Specific autoimmune diseases
- Insufficient Vitamin D
Some complications that come with the ailment may include;
- Differences in mental health, for example, mood swings and forgetfulness
- Issues with sexual functioning, bowel, and bladder functioning
- Spasms or muscle stiffness
Different tests are utilized for making the diagnosis of the disease. No specific tests are available to diagnose the ailment. When you visit your doctor and tell him about your condition, he may start taking your medical history and doing your overall examination. In such cases, your doctor may recommend a blood test, MRI, or any other test. Following are the most recommended tests to diagnose the problem.
- Blood Tests
- Spinal Tap
- Evoked Potential Tests
In some people, it is quite easy to diagnose the disease on the basis of the symptoms, while in some other cases, it is difficult and the above-mentioned tests help in the diagnosis. People having progressive disease and unusual symptoms make it more difficult to diagnose the disease. In some case, doctors need to test the imaging and spinal fluid analysis to get a conclusion.
The disease doesn’t come with a cure, but management is possible with the help of treatment methods. A number of latest treatment methods are available which work by focusing on the attacks a person gets, which area is affecting, and other related aspects. On the other hand, some individuals don’t really need treatment as they have mild symptoms. Don’t forget, early treatment is better!
Following are the treatment options on the basis of the disease.
Treatment Options For MS Attacks
- Plasma Exchange – Your blood contains an amount of plasma in it which is the liquid portion. It is separated from your blood cells. After that, the blood cells are mixed with the albumin – which is a protein solution – and put back into the body. This procedure is recommended if your body doesn’t respond to the steroid and you have severe symptoms.
- Corticosteroids – This method is also known as intravenous methylprednisolone and oral prednisone. This method helps in eliminating inflammation of the nerves. This treatment also comes with a few side-effects include high blood pressure, fluid retention, mood swings, and insomnia.
Treatment Options For Relapsing-Remitting MS
Injectable medicines are usually used to treat relapsing-remitting MS. These options include;
- Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone, Glatopa) – As you know, MS may occur because of the attack of your body’s own immune system. This treatment option works by blocking the attack of your immune system on the myelin sheath. This medicine is injected under the skin to get better results. Skin irritation in the targeted area is the most common side-effect.
- Beta Interferons – It is one of the most common medicines that are prescribed by the doctors to treat this ailment. This medicine is injected under the muscle or the skin to reduce the severity and frequency of the attacks. Infections and flu are the most common side-effects of this treatment option.
Oral Treatment Options
These treatment options include;
- Fingolimod (Gilenya)
- Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
- Teriflunomide (Aubagio)
- Siponimod (Mayzent)
The above-mentioned oral medicines are used for managing different body issues that occur as a result of the ailment. Also, they come with various side-effects. So, only take medicines according to the prescription of your doctor.
Following methods are used in infusion treatments.
- Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)
- Natalizumab (Tysabri)
- Alemtuzumab (Campath, Lemtrada)
All of these methods are approved by the FDA. Different side-effects are linked to each method. You should only get the treatment from an expert doctor and don’t take any treatment on your own.
Treatments For MS Symptoms And Signs
- Physical Therapy – You should get the services of an occupational or physical therapist for this treatment. He will teach you how to perform strengthening exercises. Also, he will assist you in learning the use of different devices to complete your daily tasks successfully. This therapy – while taking by an expert – can be helpful in managing leg weakness and other issues related to gait because of Multiple Sclerosis.
- Muscle Relaxants – Spasms or muscle stiffness is one of the most common signs of the disease. You may experience muscle stiffness in different body parts specifically legs. Your doctor will suggest you some muscle relaxants which may help you.
- Medicines to Reduce Fatigue – Fatigue is another common sign of the disease. So, taking related medicines can help in reducing fatigue which happens because of the attack of Multiple Sclerosis. Your doctor will prescribe you the medicine on the basis of your condition.
- Medicines to Increase Walking Speed – A number of medicines are available which help you in speeding up your walk. However, these medicines are not recommended for individuals having a history of kidney dysfunction or seizures.
- Other Medicines – Some other medicines can be related to pain, insomnia, depression, and to control bowel problems. In fact, whatever issues you are facing in your body because of this disease, your doctor will prescribe you related medicines accordingly.
A number of new studies and clinical trials are made throughout the world so that more effective treatments can be found to cure Multiple Sclerosis.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Using effective home remedies and making inspiring changes in your lifestyle can also help you in the management of this disease. You should try the following changes in your life to reduce symptoms.
- Take Rest – Don’t forget taking proper rest. Doing a lot of work can cause fatigue and further it may lead to an attack of MS. Monitor your sleeping habits and make the habit of taking at least 7-8 complete hours of sleep. If you can’t sleep properly, let your doctor know about it.
- Exercise – Doing exercise is highly recommended as it surely helps in reducing signs and symptoms. It strengthens your body, improves breathing pattern, and improves muscle coordination, muscle balance, and muscle tone. You may go for swimming, low-impact aerobics, Tai Chi, yoga, stationary bicycling, stretching, or walking. If you can’t decide, simply ask your doctor.
- Eat A Balanced Diet – Eating balanced and healthy diet is necessary to keep yourself healthy and active. Less amount of vitamin D in the body is a reason to suffer from this disease. So, you should increase the intake of vitamin D in your diet. Further, your doctor can help you in making a good diet plan for you.
- Cool Down – Keep your mental level and body image cool as the increase in body temperature can worsen the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Avoid the exposure of heat.
- Relieve Stress – Stress is known as one of the most common causes of diseases. It triggers various symptoms and signs and may worsen them. You can do meditation or other exercises to reduce the level of stress.
Most of the MS patients are using a combination of the treatments to manage their problem. Such type of treatment helps in managing the symptoms. Activities including eating a healthy diet, massage, yoga, performing relaxation techniques, acupuncture, meditation, and regular exercise are helpful in boosting the overall quality of life. Such activities lead the patient towards a healthy lifestyle that helps him to maintain his symptoms and live a happy and healthy life.
Coping And Support
Living with a chronic disease is not an easy task. You can get the help of your loved ones, friends, or an expert to manage your life with Multiple Sclerosis. Following are some helpful suggestions!
- Make a connection with your family and friends.
- Contact a support group, consisting of people suffering from same disease.
- Don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns and feelings with your doctor or counselor.
- Make hobbies and adopt them in your life.
- Indulge in daily activities and try to make them as normal as possible.