Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system, affecting the spinal cord, the brain and the optic nerves. MS can vary greatly in severity from person to person and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild problems to severe disabilities.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms typically begin between the ages of 20 and 50.
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
Relatively little is known about the cause of the multiple sclerosis. One theory is that genetics makes someone more susceptible to getting MS, but that it's some combination of environmental factors or triggers that often causes the disease to surface. With MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system, but researchers are mixed on whether it is specifically an autoimmune disorder. Rather, it is often called an immune-mediated disorder. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the myelin, which is a protective covering of nerve fibers in the central nervous system. This disrupts communication with the brain and leads to the symptoms of MS.
Types of MS
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary so widely that the disease is often classified as one of four different “courses”:
Any one of these courses can include the symptoms of MS, such as problems with coordination, balance and walking; fatigue; numbness; vision issues; dizziness; issues with bowel, bladder and sexual function; emotional changes and mental issues; depression; and chronic pain. As MS worsens, it may also include issues with speech, breathing, swallowing and other problems.
There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis, but people can often manage the disease through a combination of medications that help with symptoms and various types of therapy, including physical, occupational and speech. Working closely with doctors is the best course of action for finding the right approach for anyone with MS.
SOURCES: National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Breastfeeding for 15 months or longer may reduce your risk of developing this chronic autoimmune disease, study finds.
Benefits reported for women who nursed 15 months or more
Study might explain why some multiple sclerosis patients stop understanding what others are feeling
First step was to test its safety in small trial of 6 people
First drug sanctioned in U.S. for primary progressive MS
It's also effective against the most common form of the disease, researchers say
No benefit detected after 'liberation therapy,' study authors say
Fatigue, limited leg function tied to progressive disease in study
Review found younger patients fared better over 5 years, though some deaths reported
Pot shown to help chronic pain, chemo-related nausea and muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis, but researchers cite risks, too
Specialist hopes ocrelizumab will be available by spring
Perhaps, but researchers aren't ready to recommend routine supplementation during pregnancy
Study results suggest latitude affects timing of disease onset
But significant side effects remain an issue for Lemtrada, researcher says
Study shows no benefit, but staying active can help ease disease symptoms, experts say
Laquinimod seemed to slow progression of the neurological disorder, but human trials needed
Industry-funded study also found therapy doubled time until a relapse occurred
Study found link between severity of sleep apnea and performance on attention, memory tests
Toxic side effects of heavy chemo could limit use, researcher says
Vision improvement with clemastine fumarate appears modest but results are promising, researcher says
High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and depression among common co-existing conditions
Study compared Finnish adults with and without multiple sclerosis, but more research is needed
But the finding isn't reason enough to up your java intake, experts say
Patients taking Tysabri were more prone to show signs of exposure to JCV, which can cause a brain disease
Supplementation appears safe but experts say it's too soon for general recommendation
Relapse rates with daclizumab were lower than with a standard therapy, but side effects were greater
But researchers only found a connection, not cause-and-effect link
But it's too soon to recommend self-dosing with supplements
Accelerates about 5 percent for each additional year of smoking, study finds
But protective effect seems to last only about as long as exclusive nursing does
Regular exercise may have a beneficial effect on multiple sclerosis activity in the brain, study finds.
But researchers can't say if exercisers have less severe disease or if activity eases symptoms
Review of 79 studies suggests states may have put cart before the horse, experts say
Younger people with the disease appear to face an even greater risk of dying prematurely
Altered activity could explain why some diseases are worse in some months than others, researchers say
No medications available for disabling disease for less than $50,000 a year in United States, researchers say
Autoimmune disease affects central nervous system
Early results indicate treatment can repair nerve damage
But experts say complication is rare, and no reason to stop medication
Study reveals evidence that it's 'not made up,' researcher says
Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of developing MS, study finds.
Studies link several cups daily with reduced odds for the disease
But researchers aren't sure whether differences are cause or effect of inflammatory disease
Small initial trial showed improvement for people with relapsing-remitting MS
Study suggests infection with H. pylori bug may be somewhat protective
Researchers say findings provide more evidence supporting safety of the cervical cancer inoculation
Experimental treatment kills off, then 'resets' the immune system
Easing federal restrictions on pot research might help get answers, doctors say
Large study finds no association, although certain shots might speed onset of existing illness
Lack of shuteye could affect disease progression, researchers caution