Multiple sclerosis can affect the spinal cord as well as the brain causing nerve damage and lifelong disease.
Here’s all you need to know about a condition that affects around 100,000 people in the UK.
What is multiple sclerosis (MS) and how do you get it?
The exact cause of MS is unknown, but it is suggested that the condition occurs due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
MS is an autoimmune condition. This means that your body’s immune system (which is designed to fight any infection or foreign body in your system) mistakes an area of your body for a threat and attacks it.
In the case of MS, the most common areas for the immune system to fight are the myelin sheath (the layer that wraps and protects your nerves and helps them transmit signals around the body) in the brain and/or spinal cord.
This can slow nerve signals, disturb them, or stop them altogether, leading to a loss of control over certain functions in the body.
There are three main types of MS that a person can develop:
- Relapsing-remitting MS – where people have separate attacks of symptoms that come and go. About 85% of people have this type
- Primary progressive MS – this type affects about 10-15% of people who are diagnosed (usually those diagnosed in their 50s) and that means the condition continues to get worse
- Secondary progressive MS – neurologists generally agree that this is a “continuing development of disability, independent of any recurrence” according to the MS Society
There is also a condition known as benign MS, but this is only diagnosed if a person believed to have MS has passed 15 years without symptoms and little or no disability as a result of attacks. before.
What are the symptoms of MS?
The condition affects each person differently, but there are some common symptoms.
Most people will experience only a few of these symptoms, not all.
They are also very similar to symptoms of many other conditions, so they are not necessarily caused by disease.
A more detailed list of specific symptoms is available on the MS Society website.
Common Symptoms of MS
- Vision problems
- Numbness and tingling
- Muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness
- Mobile problem
- Problems with thinking, learning, and planning
- Depression and anxiety
- Sexual problems
- Bladder problems
- Bowel problems
- Difficulty speaking and swallowing
Who does MS affect and how is it diagnosed?
Multiple sclerosis can affect anyone and anyone regardless of race or sex, however, it is two to three times more common in women than in men.
It is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 30.
The immune system’s attacks on the myelin sheath cause it to become inflamed, and this is then visible in an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine.
MS can also be diagnosed with a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap.
This procedure involves inserting a hollow needle into the base of the spine (lumbar region) and removing a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
This fluid is then analyzed, looking for signs that the immune system is already fighting there, such as increased white blood cells.
How is multiple sclerosis treated?
There is currently no cure for MS, but symptoms can be treated with medication and other treatments.
Doctors have revealed a stem cell transplant could be a breakthrough development for people with MS.
An international trial shows it is possible to improve symptoms by wiping out a patient’s immune system using cancer drugs, then restarting it with a stem cell transplant. .
The results are presented at the annual European Society of Bone and Marrow Transplantation in Lisbon.
Currently, the typical type of treatment depends on the specific symptoms and difficulties faced by the affected individual.
It may include:
- treatment of recurrent MS symptoms (with steroids)
- treat specific MS symptoms
- treatment to reduce the number of relapses (disease-modifying therapy)
For more information about specific treatments and supports, visit NHS website.
What is the life expectancy for a person with multiple sclerosis?
MS is rarely a fatal condition, however, the symptoms and side effects of severe MS can cause other medical problems.
Difficulty swallowing and chest or bladder infections can affect the quality of life of people with severe MS.
People diagnosed with the condition often live five to 10 years less than the national average, however, the NHS states that the gap appears to be narrowing.
Are there any famous people with multiple sclerosis?
Earlier, American actress Selma Blair said she cried with relief when she was diagnosed with MS.
Speaking on Good Morning America, the actress said of her diagnosis: “I cried, I cried.
“They didn’t shed tears from panic, they shed tears when they knew I had to succumb to an out-of-control body.
“And there’s a bit of relief in that. Ever since my son was born, I’ve been in the midst of an MS outbreak without knowing it, and I’ve let everything go back to normal.”
Blair previously appeared at a Vanity Fair Oscars party, carrying a custom walking stick to help her balance, and has been open about her battle with MS.
Actress Christina Applegate also recently revealed she has the condition, and Paralympic gold medalist Kadeena Cox – in I’m a Celeb! – was diagnosed with MS after suffering a stroke in 2014.
YouTube star Nic Chapman, creator of Pixiwoo, reveals her struggles with MS in a touching YouTube video.
She details how the condition can often affect her speech and vision.
Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne’s son, Jack, has the condition.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/health/3867890/what-multiple-sclerosis-treatment-symptoms-signs/ What is multiple sclerosis, how is it treated, and what are the signs and symptoms of Selma Blair’s condition?