Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease and is autoimmune in nature that causes permanent disability in the person. It mainly affects the nerves, the brain and the spinal cord. The ability to move the body parts is affected severely. It mostly occurs after the age of 15 years, although it can occur at any age.

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The main symptoms of the disease are improper gait, weakness, lethargy, disturbed bowel and bladder control, visual disturbances, involuntary movements of the muscles, muscle pains, etc. and once diagnosed this disease lasts for a lifetime. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Symptomatic treatment can be given to control the symptoms and also few disease progress-controlling drugs are available that may or may not help up to some extent.

How Do You Get Multiple Sclerosis?

How Do You Get Multiple Sclerosis?

The exact cause behind multiple sclerosis is still unknown. There are various risk factors the may lead to multiple sclerosis.

The main reason that causes multiple sclerosis is that there is an autoimmune response towards myelin. Myelin is a fatty covering of the nerves. This myelin sheath acts as an insulator for the nerves and it protects the nerves from getting damaged. Due to myelin sheath, the transmission of signals to the brain from body parts and from brain to the different body parts becomes smooth and easy. But in multiple sclerosis the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath causing demyelination meaning that the myelin sheath is damaged. This causes the nerves to become exposed and lose its protection. Eventually the nerves undergo damage and this causes improper functioning of the nerves. The transmission of the signals is also hampered.

Risk Factors For Multiple Sclerosis

Vitamin D. If the level of vitamin D in the body is considerably less, this poses as a risk factor for causing multiple sclerosis.

Climate. People who live in temperate zones like the United States, Canada, Europe, etc. have more chances of suffering from multiple sclerosis.

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Exposure To Sunlight. The disease is more common in the people who have more exposure to sunlight.

Age. Multiple sclerosis mostly occurs after the age of 15 years. It is most common in the age group of 16 to 50.

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Gender. Multiple sclerosis is more common amongst women than in men. The ratio of women to men is 2.1 which means it is twice more common in women than in men.

Family History. Those who have positive family history of multiple sclerosis have 15% more chances of suffering from MS than the general population.

Smoking. The disease can relapse more frequently among smokers as compared to non-smokers.

Race. People from Africa, Asia have lower chances of developing multiple sclerosis while white people like the ones from North Europe are at higher risk.

Infections. It is found that people who are exposed to Epstein Barr virus are at higher risk of suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Complications Of Multiple Sclerosis

Muscle Spasms. Muscle spasms are also known as myoclonus. Myoclonus is sudden jerky movements or twitching of a particular group of muscles. The patient may have one episode at a time or more than one in a row. The jerking lasts for several minutes.

Tremors. Tremors means sudden shaking of a part of body that cannot be controlled.

Disturbance In Bowel Habits. Due to multiple sclerosis your bowel control worsens. It may either cause excessive bowel movements or very little movements. Excessive bowel movement leads to diarrhea while reduced movements’ causes’ constipation.

Bladder Disturbances. There is problem with bladder function leading to urinary incontinence. The nerves that send signals to your brain are damaged leading to improper functioning. The patient may also have nocturia (getting up at late night to urinate), urinary hesitancy (difficulty to initiate urination), etc.

Insomnia (Sleeplessness). Due to muscle pains and involuntary movements, the patient may find it difficult to get sleep.

Speech Problems. Due to damage to the spinal cord and lesions in the brain the speech function is also affected.

Depression. The patient becomes emotionally unstable due to neural damage.

Vision Problems. In multiple sclerosis there is evidence of optic neuritis, means the nerve that supplies the eyes is affected leading to vision problems like blurry vision, double vision, etc.

Conclusion

There is no clear reason behind the causation of multiple sclerosis. The main pathophysiology that leads to multiple sclerosis is autoimmunity. There is damage to the nerves because of demyelination of the myelin sheath. There are certain risk factors found as per various studies, that may increase the chances of developing multiple sclerosis and they are described above.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 3, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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