This report is based on the most common disease of the central nervous system (CNS) Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The report will cover what is meant by Multiple sclerosis, the different type who mostly develops MS. The report will also discuss what actually causes this disease and the signs and symptoms involved. What is meant by Multiple Sclerosis? Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which a protein component of sheath is attacked (Benz 1993).
In a normal person the immune system spots and attacks threats to the human body like viruses or harmful bacteria (6) In MS the immune system sees myelin as one of these threats, the body’s immune system cannot tell between virus proteins and its own myelin so then it starts an attack against itself (1) The disease attacks various parts of the CNS, including the spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, cerebrum and the optic nerves (Warren S, and Warren K, 2001). Not all the nerves are affected by MS. Some such as the nerves working the heart and lungs are not directly affected. (2) There isn’t a cure, but injections of interferon and oral doses of bovine myelin sometimes help to give relief to MS victims (Marieb 1997).
Myelin, a fatty sheath insulating the nerves, is damaged and lost this process is known as demyelination. Myelin enables nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain; the loss of myelin disrupts and slows down the normal smooth working of the nerves. (Benz 1993). This disruption causes symptoms of MS. Scars develop, this process is called sclerosis, at the sites where the myelin is lost. The scars are known as plaques or lesions. The disease has been given the name Multiple Sclerosis, this means “many scars”. MS was originally named Disseminated Sclerosis because the sclerosis was scattered in the CNS (Benz 1993).
Who usually gets MS? It has been stated that people are usually diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 50. MS can occur outside this age (Robinson and Neilson, 2000). Multiple Sclerosis strikes more Caucasians and women and the onset is often during early adulthood (3). The disease is also common in white people than in black or Asian people (Robinson and Neilson, 2000). What causes MS? There isn’t an actual cause for MS, but it is believed that it can be caused by viral infection, heredity, a disorder of the immune system or a combination of these.
Researchers also believed that it can be caused by an individual’s unique reaction to infection or that some substance or reaction within the nervous system triggers the body to create antibodies that attack its own tissue (3). An additional cause can be genetic. Having a relative or a parent with MS can increase the chances of inheriting it. The different types of MS There are five types of MS, the first one is the Relapsing Remitting R/R, and this type usually occurs when you’re young and can crop up suddenly. During this new symptoms can appear or existing can be more sever.
Benign MS does not worsen with time and there is no permanent disability. This type is associated with less severe symptoms at onset, for example, sensory (4). The third type is primary/progressive MS, this form usually worsens, and it begins with difficulties in walking. In this type symptoms can either level off or continue for many month and years (4). In Secondary/Progressive MS, recovery from attacks become less and less complete, slowly deficits increase and disability grows. Attacks become less obvious and remissions tend to disappear, but more CNS tissues are destroyed(5).
Progressive Relapsing MS is a rare form of MS, in which the disease is progressive from its initial onset symptoms, flare ups occur and deterioration continues in between relapses (4) Progressive/Relapsing is the most dreaded MS form; it was known as Marburg MS and shows the need for protracted Steroid therapy, with a high mortality rate (5). What are the sign and symptoms of MS? Signs and symptoms of MS depend upon which nerves are affected, as different nerves control different functions and sensations in the body (8).
In majority of patients symptoms occur and disappear unpredictably in its early stages, creating a Relapsing Remitting disease pattern. Some can complete or partial recovery from symptoms during this phase, this is because the axis by cylinders are spread (Warren and Warren, 2001). Symptoms can appear suddenly, this can be quite mild, because the myelin sheath of the nerve is damaged the transmission of the messages to the muscles or sensory organs are interrupted. It can sometimes affect one or more set of nerves.
This is usually called “an Episode” or “an attack” or when it recurs, “an exacerbation” a “relapse” or a “flare up” (Robinson and Neilson, 2000). A process called a “remission” can take place, this is when symptoms disappear or become les sever. However there is always some damage done to the nerves. The symptoms may reappear again and this can be after weeks, months and sometimes for many years. As the disease progresses damage can occur at new nerve sites and new symptoms appear. In some only two attacks or relapse and then there aren’t any further symptoms for many years (Robinson and Neilson, 2000).
If MS affects the brain it may result to unsteadiness when walking and slurring of speech. Weakness may affect one side of the body and muscles of one side of the face may twitch and also tingling or numbness that affects the hands and arms (7). Some people can suffer from double vision, blurred vision or pain in one or both eyes. This could be worse during an MS attack and it can sometimes lead to blindness. Some sufferers may have difficulty in swallowing, this can happen during an attack or it can be an ongoing problem, depends on the individual (2).
Sexual dysfunction is also common in both males and females with MS, involving, ejaculatory dysfunction, orgasmic dysfunction, degreased libido this is generally in men. In women virginal dryness and anorgasmy (Bashir and Whitaker, 2002) Person affected by MS may have additional problems, such as painful muscles spasms, urinary tract infections, constipation, skin ulceration, changes of mood between euphoria and depression, or problems with short term memory or speech. MS can affect every part of a sufferer’s life (Loder, 1996).