Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects 2.5 million people around the world. Detecting the disease early can help you to receive specialized treatment right away, so it is important to know if you are at risk and what symptoms to look out for.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Your immune system is intended to defend your body against foreign organisms that could get you sick. When it malfunctions and begins to attack your body's own central nervous system, it is called multiple sclerosis. Scientists don't yet know what causes MS, but it can be very stressful on the body.
Most people with multiple sclerosis have periods where their symptoms stay the same or improve followed by shorter periods where symptoms get worse or where new symptoms appear. The latter periods, which are caused by inflammation of the central nervous system, are usually called attacks or relapses. Attacks can last as little as a day and as long as a year, and they can occur days, weeks, or years apart. It is different for every person with the disease.
What Are the Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis?
Anyone can get MS, but certain risk factors make you more likely to get the disease.
MS is most common in people aged 15 to 60.
Women develop MS twice as often as men.
White people are more likely to develop MS.
MS occurs much more often in countries with temperate climates.
- Family History
You are more likely to develop MS if someone in your family has it.
- Other Diseases
People with type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to develop MS.
What Are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
There are a number of different symptoms that can indicate MS. While one or two of these symptoms might not point towards the disease, you should see your doctor if you have several of them in conjunction.
- Weakness in Arms or Legs
- Blurred Vision
- Increased Frequency or Urgency of Urination
- Sexual Dysfunction
What Are the Treatment Options for Multiple Sclerosis?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment is focused on lowering the effects of symptoms on your daily life. Here are some of the available treatments for the disease.
There are many different types of medications used in the treatment of MS. Some medications are used to reduce inflammation during an attack. Some are used to prevent attacks from happening as often. They can also be used to reduce symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle spasms. For more severe cases of MS, drugs are sometimes used to suppress the immune system.
- Physical Therapy
Because multiple sclerosis can have so many effects on your body, it is useful to visit a physical therapist to learn good stretching techniques that can help to reduce your symptoms.
- Plasma Exchange
During a severe attack, your doctor might use this procedure. During it, you are hooked up to a machine that will remove blood from your body, separate the blood cells from the plasma (the liquid part of your blood), and discard the plasma. Then, the blood cells are mixed with a protein solution called albumin and returned to the body. This procedure helps to remove the proteins that are attacking your body.
Multiple sclerosis can strike suddenly or creep up on you, but the symptoms it causes can be very serious either way. If you recognize the symptoms of MS and go to a walk in clinic or your doctor, you can receive treatments that will make your symptoms and attacks much easier to deal with.