Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that affects the brain and the spinal cord. It is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath. Myelin covers the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. If there is damage to the myelin sheath, the nerves may become damaged and will not be able to communicate with each other.
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary depending on the severity of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Multiple sclerosis may affect movement, vision, and cause fatigue, slurred speech, dizziness, tingling, pain, and bowel or bladder dysfunction. Vision changes may include blurry vision, double vision, and loss of vision that usually affects one eye at a time and may be associated with eye pain. Multiple sclerosis may also cause numbness or weakness in the limbs that typically affects only one side of the body at a time. It may also cause tremor, imbalance, trouble walking, and a shocking sensation when leaning the head forward.
People with multiple sclerosis may also develop paralysis in the legs, muscle spasms, stiffness, mood disorders, confusion, and epilepsy.
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis- Most people with multiple sclerosis have a period of new symptoms called relapse that usually completely or partially resolve. The relapse is followed by a period of remission in which the symptoms improve. The remission period may last for months or even years.
- Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis- is when a person with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis starts to develop steady worsening of symptoms. 60-70% of patients with relapsing-remitting MS develop secondary progressive MS. The progression typically involves imbalance and trouble walking.
- Primary progressive multiple sclerosis- A person has a gradual onset of symptoms and steady progression over time in primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
A person can be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at any age, however people are typically diagnosed between the age of 15 and 60 years old. People with inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease, and type 1 diabetes mellitus are at an increased risk for developing multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed based on history, physical exam, and imaging of the brain and spinal cord. Currently there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are medications available to prevent the progression of the disease.