Multiple sclerosis, which can also affect the brain and spinal cord, can cause nerve damage and other lifelong conditions.
This is everything you need to know about this condition that affects approximately 100,000 people in the UK.
How can you get multiple sclerosis (MS), and what is it?
Although it is not known exactly what causes MS, it is believed that the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
MS is an autoimmune condition. This is because the immune system, which is designed to fight infection and foreign bodies in your body, mistakenly attacks an area of the body that it perceives as a threat.
The most common areas where the immune system can fight MS are the myelin sheds (layers that protect and transmit signals throughout the body while covering your nerves) in the brain or spinal cord.
This can cause nerve signals to become jumbled up, slow down, or even stop altogether, which can lead to loss of control over some functions.
There are three types of MS that one can develop:
- Relapsing-remitting MS is a condition where symptoms change and people experience distinct attacks. This type of MS affects around 85 percent of people.
- Primary progressive MS is a condition that affects approximately 10-15% of people diagnosed. It generally affects those in their 50s and causes the condition to continue to worsen.
- Secondary progressive MS – Neurologists agree that this is a common form of secondary MS. “sustained build-up of disability, independent of any relapses”According to MS Society
Benign MS can also be diagnosed, but it is only possible if the person with MS has been free from symptoms for 15 years and has not suffered any disability due to previous attacks.
What are the symptoms?
Each person will be affected differently but there are some common symptoms.
Many people only experience one or two of these symptoms.
They also look very similar to symptoms of many other conditions so they are not necessarily related to the disease.
You can find a more comprehensive list of symptoms here Visit the MS Society website.
MS symptoms and signs
- Vision problems
- Tingling and numbness
- Muscle spasms, stiffness, and weakness
- Mobility issues
- Problems in thinking, learning, and planning
- Depression and anxiety
- Sexual problems
- Bladder problems
- Bowel problems
- Probleme with swallowing and speech
How is MS diagnosed and who are the people affected?
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. However, it’s two to three times more common among women than among men.
It is typically diagnosed between 20 and 30, when it is most common.
The immune system’s attacks against the myelin sheath causes it to become inflamed, which can then be seen in an MRI (magnetic radiation imaging) machine.
A lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) can be used to diagnose MS.
This procedure involves inserting a hollow needle into the base of the spine (the lumbar region) and removing a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which surrounds the brain and the spinal cord.
The fluid is then analysed to look for signs of an immune system that has been fighting there such as an increase in white blood cells.
What is the treatment for multiple sclerosis?
MS is not curable at this time. However, MS symptoms can be managed with medication and other treatments.
A stem cell transplant is a promising development for people with MS, according to doctors.
International trials showed that it was possible to treat the symptoms using chemotherapy drugs and then a stem-cell transplant.
The results were announced at the European Society for Bone and Marrow Transplantation’s annual conference in Lisbon.
The type of treatment that is most appropriate for you will depend on your symptoms and the difficulties you are facing.
It can also include:
- Relapses in MS symptoms can be treated (with steroid medication)
- Specific MS symptoms can be treated
- treatment to reduce the number of relapses (disease-modifying therapies)
Visit this site for more information on specific treatments and support. The NHS website.
How long does multiple sclerosis patients live?
MS is rarely fatal. However the side effects and symptoms of severe MS may cause additional medical issues.
For those with severe MS, breathing difficulties or chest or bladder infections may affect their quality of life.
The average life expectancy for those diagnosed with this condition is five to ten more years than the national average. However, the NHS claims that this gap seems to be shrinking.
Are there any famous people with multiple sclerosis, too?
Selma Blair, an American actress, previously stated that she cried with relief after being diagnosed with MS.
The actress spoke out on Good Morning America about her diagnosis, saying that she cried and had tears.
They weren’t tears of panic; they were tears of realizing that I had to surrender to a body with no control.
“And there was some relief in that. Ever since my son was born, I was in an MS flare-up and didn’t know, and I was giving it everything to seem normal.”
Blair, who was wearing a customised walking stick to assist her balance at Vanity Fair Oscars, previously spoke out about MS.
Christina Applegate, an actress, recently confirmed that she suffers from the condition. Paralympic gold Medallist KadeenaCox has also been diagnosed with MS. – Diagnosed with MS in 2014 after suffering a stroke.
YouTube star Nic Chapman, creator of Pixiwoo, revealed her struggle with MS in a moving YouTube video.
She described how her condition can affect her speech and vision.
Jack Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne’s child, is affected by the condition.