Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis, abbreviated to MS, is a disease that affects the central nervous system. This results in all kinds of unpleasant symptoms, including loss of various functions. This can cause paralysis, spastic movements, eye disorders, difficulty with speech and much more. MS can occur in children, often from the age of 8. It is more common around the age of 30. Treatment is possible, but cure is not.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is also abbreviated to MS and is also known as sclerosis multiplex. It is a disease that occurs not only in adults, but also in children. The disease often manifests itself between the ages of 20 and 40. Of every ten patients with MS, 1 of these 10 people already develops complaints before or during puberty. On average, 1 in 800 to 1000 people develop MS. We see the disease more often in girls than in boys.

What exactly does this disease mean?

Many people have heard of multiple sclerosis. Yet the majority do not know exactly what the disease means. MS is a disease of the central nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the spinal cord and the brain. The central nervous system is very important, it has the following functions, among others:

  • Controlling movements
  • Perceiving images, sounds, smells and tastes
  • Memory
  • Secretion of hormones
  • Regulation of metabolism
  • Day and night rithm

The central nervous system includes many nerves that arise from nerve fibers. Nerve fibers contain insulating myelin sheaths. Nerve cells conduct electrical impulses. The axon is the extension of these nerve cells. Between these is the myelin sheath. Myelin transmits electrical impulses but also ensures that no incorrect impulses are transmitted. Without myelin, messages are not passed on.
Why this explanation? Because the disease MS is all about the myelin. MS is characterized by the fact that the myelin is damaged in such a way that the electrical impulses are transmitted less and less well and eventually no longer at all. Another phenomenon is the occurrence of proliferation of the supporting tissue. MS is a serious disease.

Cause

The cause is often unknown. However, there are a number of factors that seem to play a role. MS is often thought to be an autoimmune disease. The immune system takes action against its own tissue for unknown reasons. It disables myelin. Another cause is a viral infection with a long incubation period. This can also cause MS. An inflammatory reaction of the nerves is a likely cause. Hereditary predisposition plays a role, but this does not necessarily mean that MS is more likely to occur within one family

Symptoms

The loss of myelin ultimately results in loss of function. The symptoms can vary widely. There may be just one attack, but also several. In addition, a strong deterioration may occur, which is accompanied by a period of prolonged recovery. The following symptoms are known in MS:

  • Increasing paralysis of the limbs
  • Spastic symptoms
  • Stiff muscles
  • Balance disorders
  • Vision problems
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Coordination disorders
  • Itching all over the body
  • A burning sensation
  • Incontinence (bladder complaints)
  • Constipation (constipation, poor bowel movements)
  • Problems with language and speech
  • Fatigue
  • Trembling or trembling of limbs on exertion
  • Mental changes

There may be slow deterioration or acute deterioration. We often see periods of recovery and things get better again. A deterioration occurs over a period of several hours to several days. A recovery period can vary, from a few days to several months. Sometimes there is less and less recovery and more and more deterioration, but sometimes the balance between recovery and deterioration remains the same for a long time.

Therapy

Treatment is mainly aimed at reducing the symptoms and complaints. Rest will encourage the body to recover, but should not be confused with total rest. In addition, medications can suppress the immune system’s defense response so that less myelin breakdown occurs. These medications are only administered when the symptoms worsen or increase. After a few days, these medications can be stopped again, because they also affect the rest of the immune system. Other medications can also be used. People with MS often have lower levels of vitamin D. It is important to take extra vitamin D. Rehabilitation through exercises ensures that the complaints decrease more quickly. It is possible to exercise with MS, see the article “Multiple Sclerosis and sports”. Sports reduces stiffness and has a positive effect on balance and equilibrium. Moreover, it improves the condition.
Finally, it must be said that MS is not fatal. Life expectancy for people with MS is just as high as for people without this disease, despite the unpleasant consequences that the disease entails.

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