Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Multiple Sclerosis, also known as encephalomyelitis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that a person’s immune system is attacking the nerve cells and causing damage. The main cause however, has not been identified. Genetics, environmental factors and pathogens are all believed to be a factor but, the true cause has yet to be identified. MS causes a host of physical, mental and in some cases, psychiatric problems. A cure for MS hasn’t been found yet, and the only way to treat the disease is to manage the symptoms.
Common Symptoms of MS:
Sleeping disorders: Insomnia, broken sleep and unrestful sleep are common symptoms of MS.
Muscle disorders: Muscle spasms, involuntary reflexes, tingling sensations or numbness are among the symptoms of MS.
Optical problems: Double vision, neuritis, blurry vision and loss of vision are common in those suffering from MS.
Mobility: People suffering from MS sometimes have difficulty walking as well as transfers like moving from chairs or the bed. Balance, movement, low exercise tolerance, fatigue and tremors are common.
Emotional: Multiple Sclerosis can sometimes manifest psychiatric disorders. Clinical depression, anger, anxiety and frustration are common in those affected by MS.
Speech: In some cases, MS can cause speech disorders like trouble pronouncing certain words or syllables, speed of speech and articulation. Slurred speech is also common.
Cognitive: MS can affect memory retention, processing speed, visual and spatial abilities and other functions. Emotional instability can also occur.
Pain: Studies suggest that 63% of people suffering from MS experience pain, ranging from mild and moderate to extremely debilitating. Headaches, pain in the limbs and back pain are common.
Currently, the only way to deal with multiple sclerosis is to manage the symptoms and the effects of the disease. Doctors generally prescribe treatments and medications for the individual problems rather than treating MS as a whole.
There are treatment options for and ways to cope with the different effects. Sleep disorders can be managed by creating a set sleep schedule, tiring oneself or in a worst case scenario, sleep aids are available.
Pain management: Painkillers and light exercises can help manage the pain. Muscle relaxants and pain relief medications also help
Mobility: In case of difficulty moving, mobility aids, physiotherapy and exercise help manage this problem.
Bladder and bowel dysfunction: Bladder and bowel dysfunction can manifest as incontinence, inability to empty the bladder or bowel and sometimes, both at the same time. Catheterization can be used to manage bladder dysfunction. Bowel issues can be managed with training, adequate fluid intake and a high-fibre diet.
Cognitive problems: Cognitive problems can be managed by brain-training exercises, rehabilitation, tools that can help compensate and aerobic exercise to improve function.
There are plenty of symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis and, as mentioned above, each of these symptoms have to be tackled individually. Doctors and medical professionals advise on managing the symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. A healthy lifestyle and diet, and managing the underlying symptoms help treat the disease. The underlying cause can also be managed through the use of anti-inflammatory medication or through Immunomodulatory Therapy (IMT), which can prevent the symptoms from worsening.
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