Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a strong disabling disease of the central nervous system (CNS) comprising the brain and spinal cord. It causes demyelination – disruption of the myelin that insulates and protects nerve cells – of the spinal cord and the nerves tissues in the brain. This occurs when the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers is attacked by the immune system and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body (in central nervous system). The nerves then deteriorate or even become permanently damaged as a result of this disease.
There is no one significant test to diagnose MS but a patient’s history, physical examination, and some tests like lumbar puncture, and evoked potential testing (speed of nerve impulses) can be used by the medical practitioners and other healthcare professionals to diagnose the disease. Some other tests may be done to rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms in order to ascertain that the patient is actually suffering from MS.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms and signs of MS vary widely from an individual and depend on the number of nerves that had been damaged and which nerves are affected. It is difficult to confirm that a patient suffers from MS, especially on early stage, because it has signs and symptoms similar to those of other medical problems which are not MS. Some of the symptoms are that people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.
The various common symptoms and signs of MS may include the following:
- Hypoesthesia or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of the body at a time, or the legs,
- Eye problem like partial or total loss of vision often with pain during eye movement, usually in one eye at a time,
- Prolonged double vision,
- Pain or a pickling/stinging sensation in parts of the body,
- Feeling of electric-shock which does occur with certain neck movements,
- Quiver excessively and rapidly, lack of coordination or unbalance gait
- Poorly articulated speech
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
- Pregnancy problems in women
- Urinary retention
- Muscle problem like hyper-activeness of muscle
- Painful involuntary muscle contractions
- Bowel problems like constipation or stool leakage
It has been found that there is no particular cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), however, treatments can help in speeding up the recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage the symptoms.
Types of MS
There are four types of MS namely:
- Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)
- Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), the most common type
- Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS),
- Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS)
Presently, there is nothing that can be done to prevent getting MS. There are lots of research into developing new medications, modifications of the immune system, and other ways to identify potential causes of MS and its cure. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is believed to be caused by the immune system wrongfully attacking a person’s own myelin, the fatty substance that insulates nerves and helps them send electrical signals to control movement, speech, and other functions.
SELF CARE TIPS FOR MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS PATIENTS
The following are some tips that can be helpful for patients and caregivers in dealing with MS:
- Eat a balanced diet. Eating a balanced diet is the number one tip/medication in tackling any disease. A good diet can be beneficial to everyone, most especially for people with chronic diseases such as MS. Though there is no special diet for MS, eating a diet that is low in fat (the major cause of nerve insulation), high in vitamins and fiber can help an MS patient feel better, while maximizing the energy and supporting healthy bladder and bowel function. A better diet may be therapeutic for MS patients because it can help them avoid metabolic syndrome, the all-too-common constellation of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity, and insulin resistance that puts patients at risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions.
- Make regular exercise a duty. Engaging in activities like regular exercise has been found to be helpful in tackling MS. Research reveals accurately that people with MS who participate in an aerobic exercise program have an improved cardiovascular fitness, benefitted from increased strength, enjoy better bladder and bowel function, and have a more upbeat attitude.
- Ensure a sound sleep. Sleep problems such as insomnia, frequent night-time urination, narcolepsy and leg spasms can be caused by MS. Therefore ensuring a much quality and sound sleep can be of help in getting over MS as it is known that sleep is very much crucial in brain function.
- Always ensure the environment is kept tidy. MS symptoms can strike unannounced and this makes it hard for patients to physically navigate their environment. As a result of this, always keep essentials within easy reach, and make sure safety features in the bath and shower are installed to reduce the risk of falls.
- Reach out and get involved. Self-help and MS support groups can help in establishing a good rapport with other patients and establish a valuable network for exchanging ideas, new research news and encouragement.