Profile: Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is the most common autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, which causes are yet to be known even as researchers and scientists carry on their quest for solutions. It is not a contagious disease, and treatments to delay its progression are readily available.
Although multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect other populations, people living outside the 40-degree mark north or south of the equator are more prone to the disease than those living in warmer climates, maybe because of their reduced vitamin D levels and/or less exposure to the sun. The disease usually begins to show signs and symptoms around the age of 20 up to the age of 50, affecting mostly women at twice the rate of men. Although scientists have seen multiple sclerosis cases among young children and the elderly, they claimed that they have not yet encountered symptoms among people below 15 years old or above age 60. Experts have also found that women possess a higher level of protein known as the interferon gamma, which could possibly explain why they are more prone to multiple sclerosis (MS). In addition, the disease has a genetic component. Having a father or mother who contracted MS runs a 3 to 5 percent risk of acquiring the same disease; while having an identical twin raises the risk to 30 percent.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms:
The multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms are so numerous, but the more salient ones include: numbness and tingling sensation; vision problems or optic neuritis; loss of coordination; fatigue; dizziness; bowel and bladder dysfunction; alteration in sexual ability or erectile dysfunction; depression; emotional changes, and; muscle tremors. There are also other MS symptoms that seldom occur, such as: headaches, difficulty in swallowing, problem with breathing, speech deficiency, seizures, loss of hearing, and itching.
Diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS)
Diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS), therefore, is very difficult, and practitioners cite some reasons, like:
- It exhibits numerous symptoms, and every patient reacts differently to each symptom. Some patients may start with only a single symptom followed by a period without progression; while others may demonstrate multiple symptoms all at the same time;
- Many of the symptoms imitate conditions that are characteristics of other ailments;
- There has been no blood test for multiple sclerosis;
- Symptoms occur intermittently and follows an unpredictable course;
- Many symptoms are vague and difficult to gauge, such as fatigue, erectile dysfunction, depression, and cognitive problems, and which general practitioners may attribute to stress; hence, patients may never get to be referred to a specialist.
Nevertheless, experts were able to lay down some accepted criteria for making diagnosis, albeit imperfect, such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis commonly starts between 20 and 50 years old;
- Multiple Sclerosis symptoms and signs that indicate disease of the brain or spinal cord;
- Evidence of two or more lesions in the brain;
- Objective evidence of disease of the brain or spinal cord upon doctor’s examination;
- Two or more episodes that last at least 24 hours, and occur at least one month apart, and;
- No other explanation for the symptoms
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an individual disease, and therefore, it is pointless to compare cases of one patient with another.