Multiple Sclerosis

By March 18, 2022Health Tips
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.  MS can cause a variety of symptoms.  It often begins with subtle symptoms that come and go.  Let’s talk more about it and how you can recognize it.
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple SclerosisMS is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers.  This causes a sort of short-circuit of the nerve fibers, making it difficult for the nerve fibers to accurately carry signals from the brain to the rest of your body.
What are the different types of MS?
Most people with MS have what is called relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).  This type causes periods of new symptoms or worsening symptoms called relapses, which are followed by periods of improvement.  The improvement or remissions may be complete return to normal or just partial improvement.  Periods of remission can last for months to years.  Over time, about half of patients with RRMS will develop longer and more severe relapses with fewer and shorter remissions, eventually leading to steady progression of worsening symptoms.
About 10-15% of people with MS have primary-progressive MS (PPMS), which causes a gradual onset and steady progression of symptoms without any relapses from the very beginning of the disease.
What are the symptoms of MS?
Although MS symptoms can vary greatly from one person to the next as well as over the course of the disease, here are some of the typical symptoms:
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more extremities that often occurs on one side of the body at a time or affects the trunk and legs
  • Electric shock-like sensations that can occur with certain movements, especially movement of the neck
  • Tremor, poor coordination, or unsteady gait
  • Vision symptoms, such as partial or complete loss of vision (usually one eye at a time), pain with eye movements, double vision, blurry vision.
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling or nerve pain in parts of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with bowel or bladder function, or problems with sexual function
What are the risk factors that may increase your risk of developing MS?
  • Age – The onset of MS is usually between ages 20-40 but can occur at any age.
  • Sex – Women are more than 2-3 times more likely as men to have RRMS.
  • Family history – You are at increased risk if a parent or sibling has had MS.
  • Race – White people (especially Northern European descent) are at highest risk of MS.
  • Infections – A number of viruses have been linked to MS, but no definitive cause has been identified.
  • Climate – MS is more common in temperate climates.
  • Vitamin D – Low levels of vitamin D and low sunlight exposure are associated with greater risk.
  • Autoimmune disease – Having another autoimmune disease slightly increases risk.
  • Smoking – Increases risk.
If you are having any of the symptoms of MS listed above for unknown reasons, you should see your family doctor.
If you have any questions about Multiple Sclerosis, please log into your account and send
us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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