Multiple sclerosis disease is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. The immune system destroys the myelin sheath that covers the nerves that connects the brain and the remaining part of the body. The signs and symptoms of this disease largely depend on the severity of the disease, and the extent of the damage. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease include the weakness of the limbs. This could affect one or more limbs at a time. Other common symptoms include the optic neuritis, which could eventually lead to the loss of vision the eye. The eye defect is mostly unilateral. Others are a weakness, dizziness, lack of coordination and the tingling sensations in parts of the body. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet, however, some factors have been identified. The immune system plays a crucial role in the development of this disease. This disease is an autoimmune disease. This implies that the immune system fails to recognize the myelin sheath that covers the nerves of the central nervous system, as part of the body, and then proceeds to attack them. This exposes the nerves and also impairs the conduction of impulse down the nerves. Exosomes are potential ways of treating this disease.
Types Of Multiple Sclerosis
There are different types :
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis – In this type, people have different attacks of symptoms which then go away and could come back later or they develop new ones later which fade away as well and the cycle continues. This form is seen in the majority of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
- Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis – In this type, the first primary symptoms that people develop stay with them and become progressively worse over time. This progress might be faster in some than others and new symptoms might develop along the way but there’s no dissolution and then resurfacing of symptoms like in the relapsing-remitting type. The first symptom to appear here is usually some difficulty in walking. It occurs equally in both women and men and is usually diagnosed in the forties or fifties, later than the general average diagnosis time.
- Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis – This type is usually diagnosed after a patient with the Relapsing-Remitting type stops having remissions and just progressively gets worse. It’s different from Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis in that the progression does not start from the beginning of the disease. It has become rare now because of the advances in treating Multiple sclerosis from the initial stages.
- Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis – In this type, the patient has attacks of symptoms which subside for a bit but then get worse when they resurface. This happens progressively. They could also have new symptoms that develop along the way. A relapse can occur within 24 hours or take many weeks to re-occur.
- Multiple sclerosis in children – This is rare but can occur and its more likely to occur in children of patients who suffer from Multiple sclerosis. This is despite the fact that there is no proven link of inheritance. Factors like environmental practices and sunlight might come to play here.
- Benign multiple sclerosis – This is when a person has small attacks of Multiple sclerosis and then recovers completely.
Causes Of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease and it is not clear what makes the body develop this defence against its own tissues. However, some factors seem to be implicated in the formation of this condition. They include:
- Genetic predisposition – Multiple sclerosis is not directly inherited but first relatives of people with Multiple sclerosis have a slightly higher risk of developing the disease.
- Vitamin D levels – Multiple sclerosis has a higher occurrence rate in countries farther from the equator where there is less sunlight. Also, Vitamin D has a way of regulating immune response by reducing the production of cytokines which are inflammatory.
- Environmental factors – There is an increased occurrence of Multiple sclerosis in lower latitudes.
- Viral infection – Epstein Barr virus has been said to trigger the immune system and could, therefore, increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
- Smoking- This has also been found to increase the risk of developing Multiple sclerosis
Signs And Symptoms Of Multiple Sclerosis
The symptoms depend on which parts of the brain or/and spinal cord is demyelinated. The possible symptoms include:
- Visual loss or changes – This is usually the first distinct symptom in a quarter of patients with multiple sclerosis. It can range from colour blindness to blurry vision or double vision or even loss of vision all together in one or both eyes.
- Fatigue – This occurs commonly in all types of multiple sclerosis and it can be quite frustrating.
- Muscle weakness or spasms
- Numbness and tingling in different parts of the body
- Speech problems
- Difficulty walking and making other movements
- Memory loss
- Sexual dysfunction including difficulty getting aroused or reaching orgasm.
- Pain along the spine especially when the neck is moved
- Difficulty or pain in passing urine
- Difficulty or pain while passing stool
- Decreased coordination
- Anxiety and depression
- Increased sensitivity or loss of sensation to heat or pressure
Treatment Of Multiple Sclerosis
There are different types of drugs available to either slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, reduce the severity of the symptoms or reduce the number of re-occurrences. They include:
- Disease-Modifying therapies – This help to reduce the number of times people with MS relapse. It also helps to make the symptoms less severe. They are also known as Immunotherapy or disease-modifying drugs. They are widely used in the treatment of all types of multiple sclerosis. Examples include Interferon beta 1-a, Interferon beta 1-b, Glatiramer acetate, Peginterferon, Teriflunomide tablets, Natalizumab IV infusions, Alemtuzumab IV infusions, Fingolimod capsules, etc
- Steroids – These are usually only used for a short term when people experience attacks. This is because they can cause serious side effects if taken for a long period of time. They help to lower the inflammation, reduce the time duration of the attack and fasten the recovery process. They can be taken as tablets or injections over a course of about 5 days. Examples of steroids used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis include methylprednisolone (can be taken orally or intravenously)
- Other symptomatic treatments like pain relievers, anti-sickness medications, cognitive behavioural therapy for treating depression, physiotherapy for muscle stiffness, spasms and mobility problems may need to be employed.
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Scolding, N. (2006). Stem cell therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 12(6), pp.677-678.
Scolding, N. (2011). Adult stem cells and multiple sclerosis. Cell Proliferation, 44, pp.35-38Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL