What is MS?
A debilitating and progressive disease of the central nervous system that damages the protective cover, myelin sheath, that surrounds nerve fibers and consequently disrupts the speed and efficiency with which they transmit messages to and from the brain. It is more common in women than men and usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. At present, there is no cure but various treatments are available which help to alleviate the symptoms.
Symptoms and types of MS
Symptoms can vary widely and includes fatigue, spasms, and problems relating to vision, speech, thinking, bladder & bowel control.
MS is classified into 4 types:-
- Relapsing-remitting – about 85% of MS cases start with mild to severe occurrences of symptoms for short to long periods at random intervals for up to 10 to 20 years when the condition can become more progressive
- Primary progressive – in 10% to 15% of cases from the onset of MS the symptoms tend to be continuous and get progressively worse
- Secondary progressive – in time most people with relapsing-remitting MS may find that their symptoms become more continuous and gradually worsen
- Benign – this term is sometimes used retrospectively in the 10% to 15% of relapsing-remitting MS cases where mild relapses occur at very long intervals during which there are no or few symptoms but about half the people concerned eventually experience more severe and progressive symptoms
What causes MS?
Generally, the cause of MS is not known but factors that might be involved include:-
- Malfunctions of the immune system result in it attacking the myelin sheath protecting nerve fibres
- Environmental factors including smoking and limited exposure to sunlight which affects the bodies capacity to produce vitamin D
- Some viruses and bacteria
- Faulty genes which can result in MS being inherited
Go to MS Research