The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society estimates that there are over 2.3 million people worldwide affected by MS.
Symptoms can be debilitating and devastating for patients affected by the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. However, there are methods for treatment that can offer relief.
If you or a loved one is affected by MS, don’t lose hope. The more you know about this disease, the more you can do to cope with its effects.
Read on to learn more about diagnosing and treating Multiple Sclerosis.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating condition that affects the spinal cord and the brain, which make up the central nervous system.
When MS occurs, the body’s immune system attacks the myelin, or the protective shield that covers nerve fibers. This causes communication problems between your brain and your body, eventually leading to deteriorated or permanently damaged nerves.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Depending on the severity of nerve damage in each individual case, MS can cause a range of symptoms. These can include the following:
- Weakness or numbness that typically is focused on one side of the body
- Double vision that can be prolonged and range in severity
- Partial or total loss of vision, often focused on one eye and accompanied by pain
- Impaired coordination, bodily tremors, and a shaky walk
- Slurred speech
- Pain or tingling localized in different parts of the body
- Extreme dizziness and/or fatigue
- Incontinence and issues with bowel function
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis
There is no designated test to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis. Because the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are common in a variety of other conditions, Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis often involves eliminating all other possibilities.
To start, the doctor will ask for a full medical history and proceed with the following treatments depending on the case:
- The doctor will conduct a blood test. This will help them determine whether it’s multiple sclerosis symptoms or symptoms of something else.
- The patient may receive an MRI. This can reveal lesions on the spinal cord and brain that indicate Multiple Sclerosis.
- The patient may get a spinal tap or lumbar puncture. This involves removing a sample of spinal fluid to test for the antibody abnormalities associated with MS.
- The doctor may perform evoked potential tests. These record how your central nervous system responds to certain stimuli.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
Unfortunately, Multiple Sclerosis has no cure. Treatment typically involves managing the symptoms of attacks and slowing down the progression of the disease. In some cases, symptoms of multiple sclerosis are so minor that treatment is not needed.
Treatment options may include the following:
- Muscle Relaxers
- Anti-Fatigue Medications
- Physical Therapy
- Medications for MS Symptoms
- Medications for other symptoms, such as incontinence and depression
Patients can also take steps to manage Multiple Sclerosis symptoms at home by engaging in self-care. This involves getting plenty of rest, eating well, managing stress, and exercising regularly.
Although Multiple Sclerosis has no cure, there are ways to manage it and maintain a relatively normal quality of life.
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