Multiple sclerosis : Types, symptoms, and causes

July 19, 2022

Multiple sclerosis : Types, symptoms, and causes
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Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Numerous other symptoms across the body may result from this. Unfortunately, foreseeing how a person with multiple sclerosis (MS) would develop the disease is impossible.

Some patients only have minor symptoms like blurred vision or limb numbness and tingling. In extreme situations, people may have paralysis, vision loss, and mobility issues. This, however, is uncommon.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Although scientists are unsure of the exact etiology of MS, they think it is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The immune system attacks healthy tissue when a person has an autoimmune illness, just as it could fight a virus or bacterium.

In MS, inflammation results from the immune system attacking the myelin sheath, which covers and shields the nerve fibers. The nerves’ ability to swiftly and effectively conduct electrical signals is enabled by myelin.

“Scar tissue in multiple areas” is what multiple sclerosis implies.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Depending on where the damaged nerve fibers are located, the signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary widely from patient to patient and over the course of the disease. However, movement is frequently affected by symptoms like

  • Your legs and trunk may experience numbness or weakness, which usually affects one side of your body at a time.
  • Specific neck movements, notably bending the neck forward, can feel electric-shock-like (Lhermitte sign)
  • Lack of coordination, tremor, or unsteady gait

Additionally, there are often vision issues, such as:

  • Partial or total blindness, usually affecting just one eye at a time, is frequently accompanied by pain when moving the eye
  • Long-lasting double vision
  • Blurry vision

Additional signs of multiple sclerosis include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Body tingling or discomfort in several parts of the body
  • Issues with bowel, bladder, and sexual function

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Primary Symptoms Secondary Symptoms Tertiary Symptoms
These signs and symptoms are a direct result of myelin destruction: These problems might develop as a result of the primary symptoms, such as These are social, job-related, and psychological problems:
Weakness Paralysis can lead to bedsores A person who becomes unable to walk or drive may lose their livelihood.
Numbness Repeated Urinary Tract Infection due to Bladder Problems The strain of dealing with a chronic neurological illness may disrupt personal relationships.
Tremors Weakness, bad posture, muscle imbalances, reduced bone density, and breathing issues can all be caused by inactivity. People with Multiple Sclerosis commonly encounter depression.
Loss of vision The risk of pneumonia increases when mobility declines due to weakness and swallowing difficulties.
Loss of Balance
Bladder and bowel problems

Causes and risk factors for multiple sclerosis

The exact cause of MS is unknown to scientists. However, risk factors are

  • Age: Most patients acquire a diagnosis between 20 and 40.
  • Sex: Women are twice as likely as males to develop most MS variants.
  • Genetic factors: While environmental triggers are necessary for MS to develop in people with certain genetic traits, susceptibility may be inherited genetically.
  • Smoking: MS seems to be more prone to developing in smokers. In comparison to non-smokers, they also frequently have more significant lesions and brain shrinkage.
  • Lack of sunshine exposure, which the body needs to produce vitamin D, is associated with an increased risk of MS. According to some scientists, low vitamin D levels may impact the immune system’s performance.
  • Lack of vitamin B12: The body requires vitamin B to make myelin. This vitamin deficiency may raise the risk of neurological conditions like MS.

Also Read: Neurological Surgery

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

How is MS diagnosed?

A neurological exam must be carried out by a medical practitioner, sometimes a neurologist. They will also ask you questions about your medical history and conduct several other tests to find out if you have MS.

The following diagnostic tests may be performed:

  • MRI test: Your doctor can find active and inactive lesions throughout your brain and spinal cord by using a contrast dye in conjunction with an MRI.
  • CT imaging with optical coherence (OCT): In this test, a photograph of the nerve layers in the back of your eye is obtained to look for optic nerve thinning.
  • Back tap (lumbar puncture): To check for anomalies in your spinal fluid, your doctor could prescribe a spinal tap. This examination can aid in excluding infectious disorders.
  • Blood test: Doctors order blood tests to help rule out other illnesses causing similar symptoms.
  • VEP test: visual evoked potentials. For this test, neural pathways must be stimulated to monitor your brain’s electrical activity. For example, MS was formerly diagnosed using testing for auditory and sensory evoked potentials in the brain stem.

Types of Multiple Sclerosis

  • “Clinically isolated syndrome” (CIS) refers to an initial episode with singular symptoms that continues for at least 24 hours. A clinician may identify relapse-remitting MS if a further episode develops.
  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most prevalent kind. Approximately 85% of MS cases are first identified as RRMS. In RRMS, there are periods of remission between episodes of new or worsening symptoms and episodes of symptoms disappearing entirely or partially.
  • The symptoms of primary progressive MS (PPMS) develop over time without early relapses or remissions. Therefore, some people could go through periods of stability when their symptoms worsen before getting better. PPMS affects about 15% of MS patients.
  • After experiencing periods of remission and relapse, patients with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) will eventually develop the illness.

What questions should I ask a doctor?

  • How do we know I have Multiple Sclerosis and not another neurological condition?
  • Do I need to start taking medicine for disease-modifying therapy?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of various DMTs?
  • Will I have to take medicine for the rest of my life?
  • What alterations can I make to my way of life to better manage my MS?

Prevention of Multiple Sclerosis

Adapting your way of life can help your condition, including

Healthy eating: There isn’t a magic MS diet. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein is advised by experts. Additionally, you should cut back on processed meals, bad fats, and added sugars.

Also Read: Importance of a Balanced Diet

Exercise regularly: Muscle weakness, loss of balance, and trouble walking can all be symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Aerobic activity, flexibility, and strength training are crucial to maintaining physical function and keeping muscles healthy.

Stress management: Stress may have adverse physical and emotional effects. Additionally, it may disrupt sleep, exacerbating the tiredness brought on by MS. It’s crucial to identify stress management methods, such as yoga, meditation, physical activity, and seeing a mental health professional.

Limiting alcohol intake with quitting smoking: Both smoking and drinking are associated with worsened MS symptoms and may hasten the severity of the condition. Your health will benefit if you stop smoking.

People also ask

1. What is the leading cause of multiple sclerosis?

Your immune system mistakenly attacks the brain and nerves, which leads to multiple sclerosis. Although the exact cause is unknown, it may result from hereditary and environmental factors.

2. What happens when you have multiple sclerosis?

Myelin, the central nervous system’s protective covering on nerve fibers, is harmed in multiple sclerosis. This causes damage that might result in symptoms like numbness, pain, or tingling in certain body areas, depending on where it occurs in the central nervous system.

3. What are usually the first signs of MS?

  • Vision issues
  • Aches and spasms, together with tingling and numbness
  • Weakness, fatigue, balance issues, vertigo, or bladder problems
  • Issues with sexual dysfunction and cognition

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.



Department of Neurology

Department of Neurology

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