Multiple sclerosis: when the immune system attacks our own nervous system

The multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative disease of the nervous systemthat is found worldwide and is the most common in people between 20 and 30 years. The cause and cure are not known, and not all people have the same symptoms, so it is not always easy to recognize.

Although it is not contagious or fatal, multiple sclerosis usually begins to manifest during youth and can be very disabling over time, seriously affecting the life plans of the person who suffers.

What is sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system , formed by the brain and spinal cord. In healthy people, a substance called myelinenvelops the fibers that make up the nervous system, protecting them and facilitating the circulation of electrical impulses that are ultimately nerve signals.

This hinders the transmission of nerve signals, which is what gives rise to the symptoms

In people with MS, that myelin deteriorates and disappears, leaving damaged, scarred tissue in many areas, which is called demyelinating plates. This hinders the transmission of nerve signals , which is what gives rise to the symptoms. As each signal corresponds to a different bodily function, that is why the symptoms can be so varied and difficult to associate in principle with multiple sclerosis.

The types of sclerosis

Not all patients with sclerosis suffer the same, and that is why several different types of MS are identified.

Recurrent-remitting sclerosis

It is the most common form of MS: it affects 80% of patients. In the early stages, although injuries to the nervous system are already occurring, there are no symptoms. Outbreaks appear suddenly and are unpredictable : symptoms appear that last a few days and weeks and then disappear again until the next outbreak.

Progressive secondary sclerosis

When the situation of disability persists or worsens between two outbreaks of a relapsing-remitting MS, it is considered that we are already facing a secondary progressive MS, a more advanced form that develops between 30 and 50% of the people who suffer from the remitting form- recurrent. It usually occurs between 35 and 45 years, and is characterized by a continuous progression, without outbreaks but without remissions.

Primary progressive sclerosis

It is rare, and is characterized because at no time there are outbreaks, but the disease begins with a slow but constant worsening of symptoms, without periods of remission and only with minor and temporary improvements.

Recurrent progressive sclerosis

It is an atypical form in which there is a constant progression from the beginning, but there are also clear outbreaks . In the periods between outbreaks, the disease continues to get worse.

Causes of multiple sclerosis

MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s defenses turn against it, in this case, attacking and destroying myelin. But it is not known what causes this attack.

It is known that it is not a hereditary disease, but there could be a certain genetic predisposition combined with certain environmental factors.

The symptoms of sclerosis

As we have explained before, the symptoms of MS are very varied, they depend on each specific case and they evolve according to the damaged area of ​​the brain in each patient, but some common patterns can be drawn.

The symptoms of MS are very varied, depend on each case and evolve according to the damaged area of ​​the brain in each patient

In patients with relapsing-remitting sclerosis, symptoms appear in outbreaks , and may include loss of muscle strength and dexterity, blurred or double vision, loss of vision in one eye, numbness or tingling, pain, and balance problems.

In the case of primary progressive sclerosis, the onset of symptoms occurs little by little , especially those that affect mobility and motor force. As the disease progresses, other symptoms appear especially related to the nervous system such as spasms, stiff muscles, memory problems, sexual or concentration and urinary incontinence.

How is sclerosis cured?

Currently there is no cure for sclerosis, although research is unstoppable to find it. What do exist are treatments to improve the quality of life of patients. There are increasingly more drugs that reduce the number and severity of outbreaks thus delaying the onset of neurological disability in the long term.

In addition, some changes in lifestyle seem to have a positive influence on the progression of the disease. According to a recent study, intermittent fasting helps reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis , as it would favor the destruction of damaged cells and the generation of new ones.

The exercise , meanwhile, has been protagonist of disagreements between the medical community, who feared the one hand that the increase in body temperature with activity worsen symptoms, and on the other that this would increase the fatigue that often feel the MS patients. To date, according to a report that reflects the Multiple Sclerosis Association , it is considered that if the activity is adapted to the conditions of the patients, there is no risk in exercising, and that in fact it can be beneficial to improve many related symptoms with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of movement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *