Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder which results in impaired functioning of the brain and the spinal cord. It is a movement and disability disorder wherein affected patients will not be in a condition to walk or even stand. The myelin sheath the protective layer present on the neurons gets eroded exposing the nerve fibers. As there is a gap between the nerves, there will be slow or no transmission of information. The coordination between the neurons to perform the activity is delayed resulting in the communication gap between the brain and the rest of the body. MS can result in permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves depending upon the number of nerves affected. The signs and symptoms of the disease depend upon the area of the nerves affected. There can be either permanent disability or remission of the symptoms for long periods without the development of any further symptoms. It is a relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There is no treatment for multiple sclerosis, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be helpful in alleviating symptoms and progression of the disease. Treatment of MS can help in early recovery and modifies the progression of the disease. The treatment options for MS include immune suppressants such as corticosteroid (both oral and injectables).
Who Is At Risk For MS?
Here is the list of factors responsible for developing multiple sclerosis:
Demographic Factors (Age, Sex, And Race). People between the age of 15 and 55 are likely to develop MS, although the risk is available at all ages. Women are more susceptible to developing the disease due to genetic variations and are at double risk of developing MS. It is more prevalent in Asian, African or Native American descendants. Among all the races Northern European descents are at the highest risk.
Smoking. According to a study smokers are 1.5 times at increased risk of developing MS than non-smokers. Smoking increases the rate of progression of the disease. Smokers experience the first attack of MS soon and then second events happen at an earlier stage when compared to non-smokers which result in relapsing-remitting MS.
Family History. Although MS is not a hereditary disorder, it has been established that parents or siblings suffering from MS are likely to develop MS. The existence of MS in any of the family members increases the risk of developing MS.
Infections. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), infectious mononucleosis and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) are the possible risk factors for the development of MS. These infections also increase the rate of disease progression. The viruses increase the inflammation and cause breakdown of the myelin sheath.
Body Mass Index (BMI). According to a Canadian study, people with high body mass index (BMI) are at an increased risk of developing MS. Weight management is quite important for healthy well-being. Obesity can be a contributing factor for MS.
Environmental Factors. People who leave in temperate climates, including Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, parts of Australia and Europe are at increased.
Autoimmune Diseases. People who are already suffering from autoimmune diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are likely to develop MS. The immune system is already compromised and any triggering factor can lead to MS.
Vitamin D. People who have low levels of vitamin D due to low exposure to sunlight is associated with an increased risk of MS.
Stress, smoking, lack of sleep and heat are the trigger factors for developing MS. Risk factors can be modified by simple lifestyle changes such as body weight can be controlled, smoking can be prevented and getting sufficient exposure to sunlight for optimum Vitamin D levels in the body.
What Is Its Prognosis?
The prognosis for non-severe form of MS is good. Majority of people with MS live about seven years less than their normal life span.
Multiple Sclerosis, the inflammatory disorder of nerves has a number of risk factors. People who are of age (15-55 years), women, smokers, certain viral infection and autoimmune diseases, family history and Vitamin D levels increase the risk for development and progression of MS.
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