Multiple Sclerosis, which is more commonly referred to as MS is a type of disease that disturbs one’s spinal cord and brain function. With MS, patients experience a loss of vision, balance, sensation and muscle control. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is known to be an autoimmune disease, in which the spinal cord and brain are attacked and damaged by the body’s very own immune system. Typically, the immune system seeks out and eliminates foreign matters to the body such as bacteria, however in an autoimmune disease; the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy normal tissues.
Multiple Sclerosis and the Autoimmune Attack
In a disease like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the immune system attacks the two most important components of the Central Nervous System, the Brain and Spinal Cord. The Central Nervous System (CNS) is important because it serves as the body’s messenger. Each nerve in the body is covered up by a fatty material known as myelin; this material helps to insulate the nerves and helps to aid in the transmission of what we know as nerve impulses. Nerve impulses are messages between one’s brain and other parts of the body. All these messages are very important because they help to control the muscle movements in the body, like those of talking and walking.
The Process of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis or MS is given its name because of the scar tissue build up on the brain or spinal cord, also referred to as sclerosis. The scar tissue or sclerosis begins to build up when the insulating and protective myelin that covers the nerves is damaged and destroyed, this process is referred to as demyelination. When there is no myelin, the electrical signals that are transferred through the brain and spinal cord become halted or disrupted. The brain is then unable to send or even receive any messages. When communication between the body and the brain is damaged such as this, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis begin to appear.
What are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
Typically those with Multiple Sclerosis will begin to experience their very first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40. Sometimes the symptoms will appear to get better, but they always return. This process of symptoms disappearing and coming back tends to make it rather difficult to diagnosis Multiple Sclerosis. Below are some common early symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, and some more common later stage symptoms.
Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
- Weakening in the legs or arms
- Clumsiness or uncoordinated walking
- Double or blurry vision
- Problems concentrating or thinking
- A loss of balance all together
- Tingling in muscles
It’s important to remember that not everyone will experience the same exact symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. One may experience one symptom and it can go away or disappear for months or years without seeing any other symptoms, however others experience symptoms that come and go and gradually get worse within weeks to months.
Common Later Stage Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
- Bladder Control Problems
- Trouble Walking
- Weird Sensations (pins and needles)
- Sexual Issues (vaginal dryness, and erection problems)
- Muscle spasms
- Speech Impairment
- Memory problems
- Vision problems
It’s very difficult to determine and diagnosis Multiple Sclerosis because of the variation of symptoms in each patient. Doctors suggest if any symptoms appear and cause concern to contact one’s physician immediately to make them aware of the symptoms and move forward into testing and diagnosis.