Multiple sclerosis

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. It affects more women than men. In the most severe cases, the disease eventually leads to reduced mobility or complete disability.

There are different types of multiple sclerosis:

  • Relapsing-remitting form: this is the most frequent and affects more than 80% of people suffering from this pathology. It may be asymptomatic in the initial phase, although inflammatory lesions are already occurring in the central nervous system.
  • Primary progressive form: affects 10% of patients and is characterized by the absence of distinct outbreaks.
  • Secondary progressive form: this occurs when the degree of disability persists or worsens and is characterized by a continuous progression.
  • Relapsing progressive form: this is rare, with progression from onset showing acute flare-ups with no complete recovery.

Prognosis of the disease

The prognosis is variable and difficult to predict. The disease, as in most chronic and disabling diseases, may result in a somewhat shorter life expectancy in patients compared to the healthy population. This is because they are more prone to respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, etc.

It is also worth noting that in most cases people with multiple sclerosis continue to walk and perform at work with minimal disability for several years.

See also  Ocular ultrasound

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis

Symptoms vary according to the location and magnitude of each attack. Episodes may have different durations and may vary in days, weeks or months. Attacks are followed by remissions, which are periods in which there is a decrease or disappearance of symptoms.

Fatigue is a very common symptom of the disease and is usually worse in the late afternoon. Other common symptoms are:

  • Muscular symptoms: muscle spasms, loss of balance, tremors and weakness.
  • Bladder and bowel symptoms: constipation, difficulty in starting to urinate, frequent urination and urinary incontinence.
  • Eye symptoms: double vision, eye discomfort and loss of vision.
  • Numbness, tingling or pain: muscle spasms, facial pain and itching or tingling sensations.
  • Brain and neurological symptoms: depression, hearing loss, dizziness, decreased attention span and memory loss.
  • Sexual symptoms: erection and vaginal lubrication problems.
  • Speech and swallowing symptoms: slurred speech and chewing problems.

Medical tests for multiple sclerosis

Diagnosis of the disease is not straightforward and different diseases must be ruled out to reach a definitive diagnosis. Diagnosis requires the interaction of different medical disciplines.

The most common medical tests are as follows:

  • Analytical analysis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Provoked potentials tests

What causes multiple sclerosis?

The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, although there are several indications related to impaired autoimmune mechanisms. Multiple sclerosis is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, which is the protective covering that surrounds neurons. When the sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or stop. Nerve damage is caused by inflammation, which occurs when the body itself attacks the nervous system.

See also  Constipation

Specialists believe that the cause of multiple sclerosis is related to a virus, a genetic defect or both. Environmental factors may also play a role.

Can it be prevented?

Because the cause is unknown, prevention is not possible. However, medical specialists believe that regular sun exposure, always with protection, can help to control one of the factors related to the development of the disease, such as vitamin D deficiency.

Treatments for multiple sclerosis

At present, there is no known definitive cure for multiple sclerosis. However, there are several treatments that can delay the disease. The goal of treatment is to prevent the progression of symptoms and maintain the patient’s quality of life.

Various medications are used to slow the progression of the disease and to reduce the severity of attacks. In addition, there are also certain medications that help control symptoms.

Other treatments such as physical therapy, following a healthy lifestyle or avoiding stress can help people with multiple sclerosis.

What specialist treats it?

Multiple sclerosis should be treated by a specialist in neurology.