Living With Multiple Sclerosis

A disease of the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves; living with multiple sclerosis is debilitating. Myelin, also known as the myelin sheath, is a fatty tissue which surrounds and protects the nerve fibers of the central nervous system, helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses. If the myelin begins to deteriorate, it leaves scar tissue called sclerosis. Myelin protects nerve fibers, and when it is destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted, thereby producing the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Affecting more than 350,000 people in the U.S.

, multiple sclerosis is diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Multiple Sclerosis is twice as likely to occur in Caucasians, more than any other group, and women are more likely than men to be affected by MS earlier in life. Later in life, the incidence of the disease in men and women is almost equal. To date, the cause of Multiple Sclerosis is unknown. Researchers suspect that a foreign object such as a virus or an abnormal gene changes myelin so that the immune system perceives myelin as an intruder and attacks it. While some of the myelin may be repaired, it may disappear altogether, leaving nerves without a protective cover.

Individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis experience a physical inability to function, and the onset of attacks may range from mild to severe. These attacks may last for a brief time or continue for months to years. Symptoms include impaired vision; muscle weakness; lack of coordination; muscle spasms, fatigue, numbness and pain.

They may also experience loss of sensation, some form of speech impediment, tremors, dizziness, hearing loss, memory loss, and depression. As the disease progresses, MS individuals experience sexual dysfunction and reduction in bowel and bladder control. One of the most heartbreaking aspects in diagnosing MS is that it could literally take months. Unfortunately, detecting MS requires an ongoing and detailed history of the individual to determine if the symptoms can definitively be diagnosed as MS. Three tests must be performed in order to ascertain the criteria for MS is met: an MRI; an electro-physiological test; and an examination of the cerebro-spinal fluid which surrounds the spinal cord.

If the criteria are not met in any one of these tests, the individual is diagnosed with probable MS. It is not considered definite MS until the individual's age is within the range; at least one attack affecting more than one organ has occurred; or there has been a progression of symptoms over a long time. Once it is determined an individual has this disease, medications will be prescribed to manage attacks, symptoms, or both. Medications which alter the immune system, such as interferon, have been used to help living with Multiple Sclerosis.

To date, there is no known cure; however research is ongoing in finding a cure for this dreaded disease.

For more detailed Multiple Sclerosis information drop by living with Multiple Sclerosis. Jeff also suggests for reading more free health related articles.

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