Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (essentially, the central nervous system). It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions.
How does it affect an individual or what are its effects?
In Multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibres and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
The signs and symptoms differ from person to person and throughout the disease depending on the location of affected nerve fibers.
Symptoms often affect movement, such as:
Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of the body at a time, or the legs and trunk.
Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward.
Tremor, lack of coordination, or unsteady gait.
An individual suffering from multiple sclerosis may suffer various vision problems such as Partial or complete loss of vision, prolonged double vision, and blurry vision.
Other symptoms include slurred speech, fatigue, dizziness, pain in parts of the body, tingling sensations in parts of the body, and problems with sexual, bowel and bladder function.
The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. In multiple sclerosis, there is a malfunction in the immune system . This immune system malfunction destroys the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord (myelin).When the protective myelin is damaged and the nerve fiber is exposed, the messages that travel along that nerve fiber may be slowed or blocked.
It isn't clear why MS develops in some people and not others. A combination of genetics and environmental factors appears to be responsible.
While the exact cause is unknown, a set of risk factors for the same have been noted:
Age: Most people receive a diagnosis between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
Sex: Most forms of MS are twice as likely to affect women than men.
Genetic factors: Susceptibility may pass down in the genes, but scientists believe an environmental trigger is also necessary for MS to develop, even in people with specific genetic features.
Smoking: People who smoke appear to be more likely to develop MS. They tend to have more lesions and brain shrinkage than non-smokers.
Infections: Exposure to viruses, may increase a person’s risk of developing MS, but research has not shown a definite link.
Vitamin D deficiency: MS is more common among people who have less exposure to bright sunlight, which is necessary for the body to create vitamin D.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: The body uses vitamin B when it produces myelin. A lack of this vitamin may increase the risk of neurological diseases, such as MS.
How to help someone dealing with multiple sclerosis?
Understand that there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to multiple sclerosis so try to support them in this case.
Be flexible and understanding and offer to help with everyday stuff.
Learn more about it and keep a lookout for any ways in which they can get better help(treatments, medicines, etc.) regarding the same.