Multiple Sclerosis, abbreviated MS, is a chronic disease affecting the myelin sheath; a tissue composed of fats and proteins covering nerves. Myelin speeds impulses up and down nerves enabling the brain and body to exchange messages.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes MS, but it is thought it may be triggered by an autoimmune response. This means the body attacks itself. Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system – that being the body’s main system for communication that includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerve roots.
Symptoms related to multiple sclerosis widely vary. Listed below are examples of symptoms.
- Vision problems: blurred, double, certain color distortions, blindness
- Muscle weakness: difficult to stand or walk
- Difficulty with balance, dizziness
- Paralysis: partial, complete, temporary
- Sensations such as numbness, pins and needles, tingling
- Hearing loss
- Speech impediment
- Problem with concentration, memory
- Symptoms vary in severity and may come and go
As you can imagine, many of these symptoms are caused by other, and completely different, types of medical disorders. Therefore, it is important to remember that the opinion of a neurologist or MS specialist is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
MS seems to affect people during the prime of life; between the ages of 20 and 40. It can be difficult to make an early diagnosis and the disease is quite unpredictable. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure. However, research has advanced understanding of multiple sclerosis, more efficient diagnostic practices, treatment, and improved quality of life for people affected by MS.
To learn about Multiple Sclerosis, please visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society web site at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx
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