Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune illness that affects the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves in your eyes. It can create issues with one's balance, muscle control, vision, and many other basic functions of the human body.
MS occurs when the immune system wages an attack on a mineral called Myelin. Myelin is wrapped around nerve fibers in order to protect them. Without Myelin to protect the nerve fibers, scar tissue develops and the nerve fibers become damaged. Because of the damage, the brain cannot properly send signals throughout the body.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
-Difficulties with walking
-Difficulty with focus and memory
The onset of symptoms occur between the ages of 20 and 40. Those with MS may experience periods of attacks (symptoms worsen), and periods of recovery (symptoms improving). For some patients, the illness may become worse over time.
Getting a diagnosis
Like Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis is extremely hard to diagnose, since symptoms mirror many nerve disorders. If your doctor feels that you may have MS, they may refer you to a neurologist. The neurologist will examine you, looking for signs of the disease.
The neurologist may order a number of tests to rule out other illnesses. Some of these tests include:
-Balance, vision, and coordination tests.
-An analysis of the liquid that cushions your spinal cord and brain (your doctor will be looking for specific proteins in the liquid).
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
While there is no cure for MS, there are treatments available to help alleviate your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe a number of medications that will aid in this endeavor.
Some of these medications include:
Your doctor may prescribe steroids to decrease the MS attacks. Medications to decrease muscle spasms may also be prescribed.
Physical therapy may be ordered to help improve strength and coordination.
Doctors continue to research new ways to diagnose and treat MS. Many trials throughout the country are being conducted to test new treatments. Ask your doctor about participating in a trial and if there are any in your area.