Multiple sclerosis: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment


Multiple sclerosis is a disease characterized by the immune system “attacking” the myelin sheath, which is a protective structure that covers neurons, causing permanent destruction or damage to the nerves, which leads to a problem with communication between the brain and the brain. rest of the body.

The signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary and depend on how many and which nerves are affected, but usually include muscle weakness, tremor, tiredness, or loss of control of movement and the ability to walk or talk, for example.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has no cure, but the treatments available, with corticosteroids, anticonvulsants and immunosuppressants, for example, can help control symptoms, prevent crises or delay their progression and should always be indicated by a neurologist. .

multiple sclerosis symptoms

Multiple sclerosis manifests itself through symptoms that become more evident during periods known as crisis or outbreaks of the disease, which appear throughout life, or due to disease progression. Thus, these can be very different, varying from one person to another, and may regress, disappearing completely when performing the treatment, or not, leaving some sequels.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

  • Excessive tiredness;
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the arms or legs;
  • Lack of muscle strength;
  • Muscle stiffness or spasm;
  • tremor;
  • Headache or migraine;
  • Memory lapses and difficulty concentrating;
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence;
  • Vision problems such as double, cloudy, or blurred vision;
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing;
  • Changes in walking or loss of balance;
  • Shortness of breathe;
  • Depression.

These symptoms do not all appear at the same time, but they can decrease quality of life. In addition, the symptoms can be aggravated when you are exposed to heat or if you have a fever, and can spontaneously reduce when the temperature returns to normal.

symptom test

To know the risk of having multiple sclerosis or having a crisis, select the symptoms presented in the following test:

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is made by a neurologist based on the person’s medical history and symptoms, blood tests to help rule out other conditions with symptoms similar to MS, and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as an MRI. for example, where degradation of the myelin sheath can be seen.

In addition, other tests that the doctor may order are the study of evoked potentials to record the electrical signals produced by the nerves in response to stimuli and the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid extracted by lumbar puncture that can show abnormalities in antibodies associated with multiple sclerosis and help to rule out infections and other conditions with symptoms similar to those of multiple sclerosis. Learn how lumbar puncture is performed.

Possible causes

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, however the onset of symptoms is known to be related to immunological changes. In addition, some factors can favor the development of multiple sclerosis, such as:

  • Be between 20 and 40 years old;
  • Being a woman, since being female has been found to increase two to three times the chances of developing multiple sclerosis than men;
  • Having cases of multiple sclerosis in the family such as parents or siblings;
  • Have an autoimmune disease such as thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Having low levels of vitamin D.

In addition, it was found that infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, responsible for mononucleosis, can increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis by 32 times, however more studies should be carried out to verify if the development of drugs and vaccine against the Epstein virus -Barr would be effective in preventing multiple sclerosis.

How is the treatment done?

The treatment of multiple sclerosis should be done with drugs indicated by the doctor with the aim of preventing the progression of the disease, reducing the time and intensity of the crises and controlling the symptoms. muscle, for example.

Additionally, physical therapy is an important treatment in multiple sclerosis because it allows muscles to be activated, controlling leg weakness, difficulty walking, or preventing muscle atrophy. Physiotherapy for multiple sclerosis consists of stretching and muscle strengthening exercises.

Check out all the treatment options for multiple sclerosis.

Care during treatment

Some important measures during the treatment of multiple sclerosis help to control symptoms and prevent the disease from progressing and include:

  • To sleep at least 8 to 9 hours a night;
  • do exercises recommended by the doctor;
  • Avoid exposure to heat or hot places, preferring mild temperatures;
  • relieve stress with activities such as yoga, tai-chi, massage, meditation or deep breathing.

It is important to follow up with the neurologist who should also guide changes in diet and to have a balanced diet rich in vitamin D. Check the complete list of foods rich in vitamin D.

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