Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disorder affecting the brain and spinal cord, also known as the central nervous system.
What causes multiple sclerosis?
The exact cause of MS is unknown. It appears to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks myelin in the central nervous system.
This breakdown occurs when the immune system attacks nerve fibers and myelin sheathing—the fatty substance surrounding and insulating healthy nerve fibers—in the brain and spinal cord. The immune attack results in inflammation that destroys nerve cell processes and myelin—and alters electrical messaging in the brain.
Who is susceptible to MS?
It’s unclear why certain people inherit a predisposition to MS. Triggers can be linked to both viral infections and environmental factors. A genetic susceptibility for developing the disorder is also likely, since people with family members who have MS are at a slightly higher risk for inheriting the disorder.
MS is unpredictable and affects people differently. The effect on some patients may be mild, whereas others may lose mobility or the ability to write or speak.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of MS?
Symptoms vary greatly from person to person, over time, and in intensity. MS symptoms can include:
- Bladder problems (frequent urination, urgency)
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Impaired coordination (ataxia)
- Sensory symptoms (numbness, pain)
- Spasticity (muscle stiffness or spasms)
- Temperature sensitivity—worsening of MS symptoms by heat
- Trouble with short-term memory and concentration
- Visual symptoms (optic neuritis, association with pain and eye movement, double vision)
How is MS diagnosed?
It can be challenging to confirm a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis because early symptoms may be minor and sporadic. It can also be difficult because other disorders have similar warning signs, and there is no definitive single laboratory test to confirm MS.
What treatments are available?
Patients and families coping with multiple sclerosis face many challenges. Your care team—including your primary physician, your neurologist, and your specialty infusion team at ARJ—seek to provide an accurate diagnosis, quality care, and an effective infusion treatment plan to help you manage your condition.
Source: hopkinsmedicine.org »
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