Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Multiple Sclerosis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. Meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system.

Damaging the myelin further, the nerve impulses are not transmitted as quickly or efficiently, resulting in symptoms such as numbness in the limbs, fatigue, dizziness, paralysis and/or loss of vision.

Multiple sclerosis Symptoms

Though MS develops differently in different people, the symptoms remain similar in the individual.

According to research, people with multiple sclerosis (MS) tend to have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40. Usually, the symptoms get better, but then they come back. Some come and go, while others linger.

No two people have exactly the same symptoms. A patient may have a single symptom, and then go months or years without any others. For some people, the symptoms get worse within weeks or months and for others it may never come back.

Keep track of what’s happening to you. It’ll help your doctor monitor your disease and help her understand how well your treatment works.

For many people, the first brush with what are later diagnosed as MS is what doctors call clinically isolated syndrome (CIS).


There are two types of CIS:

  • Monofocal episode: You have one symptom.
  • Multifocal episode: You have more than one symptom.

The most common symptoms in CIS are:

Optic neuritis: This condition damages the nerve that connects your eye to your brain. It usually affects just one eye, but in rare cases, it involves both. You might notice:

  1. Blurry vision
  2. Colours appear dull
  3. Pain in your eye, especially when you move it
  4. Numbness & Tingling: It usually affects your legs. You might feel:
  5. An electric shock-like feeling when you move your head or neck. It may travel down your spine or into your arms or legs.
  6. Numbness, often in your face
  7. Tingling

Multiple sclerosis Causes

Cause 1: Immune system

MS is considered an immune-mediated disease: The immune system malfunctions and attacks the CNS. Researchers know that the myelin sheath is directly affected, but they don’t know what triggers the immune system to attack the myelin.

Research into which immune cells are responsible for the attack is ongoing. Scientists are seeking to uncover what causes these cells to attack. They’re also searching for methods to control or stop the progression of the disease.

Cause 2: Genetics

Several genes are believed to play a role in MS. Your chance of developing MS is slightly higher if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has the disease.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, if one parent or sibling has MS, the chances of getting the disease are estimated to be around 2.5 to 5 percent in the United States. The chances for an average person are approximately 0.1 percent.

Scientists believe that people with MS are born with a genetic susceptibility to react to certain unknown environmental agents. An autoimmune response is triggered when they encounter these agents.

Cause 3: Environment

Epidemiologists have seen an increased pattern of MS cases in countries located farthest from the equator. This correlation causes some to believe that vitamin D may play a role. Vitamin D benefits immune system function.

People who live near the equator are exposed to more sunlight. As a result, their bodies produce more vitamin D.

The longer your skin is exposed to sunlight, the more your body naturally produces the vitamin. Since MS is considered an immune-mediated disease, vitamin D and sunlight exposure may be linked to it.

Cause 4: Infection

Researchers are considering the possibility that bacteria and viruses may cause MS. Viruses are known to cause inflammation and a breakdown of myelin. Therefore, it’s possible that a virus could trigger MS.

It’s also possible that the bacteria or virus that have similar components to brain cells trigger the immune system to mistakenly identify normal brain cells as foreign and destroy them.

Several bacteria and viruses are being investigated to determine if they contribute to the development of MS. These include:

  1. measles viruses
  2. human herpes virus-6, which leads to conditions such as roseola
  3. Epstein-Barr virus


Multiple sclerosis Diagnosis

A certain set of signs points to MS. Your doctor will need to:

  • Find damage to at least two areas of your central nervous system (your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves)
  • Prove the damage happened at different points in time
  • Rule out any other diagnosis

The doctor will start by asking you about your medical history and your symptoms. They’ll also do a few tests to see if your brain and spinal cord are working as they should. These include:


This imaging test lets the doctor take a closer look at your brain. They can see changes caused by multiple sclerosis-like signs of inflammation in the deep parts of your brain or spinal cord.

But older people or those with high blood pressure and diabetes also can have the same kinds of spots on a brain MRI. So, the doctor will consider other info, including your symptoms, along with the scan results before they make a diagnosis.

Also, an MRI result that says things are normal doesn’t rule out MS. You could be one of a small number of people who have lesions in places the scan can’t show.

Spinal taps:

This test, which you may also hear called lumbar puncture, checks the fluid that runs through your spinal column. Doctors use it to look for high levels of proteins and other substances that are signs of the disease. It can help diagnose MS, but it, too, isn’t absolute proof.

Evoked potentials:

These electrical nerve tests can help doctors confirm if MS has affected the parts of your brain that help you see, hear, and feel. The doctor will place wires on your scalp to test your brain’s response as you watch a pattern on a video screen, hear a series of clicks, or get electrical pulses on your arm or leg.

Blood tests:

They can’t diagnose MS, but the doctor will use them to look for substances in your blood that point to it. Most importantly, they can help your doctor rule out conditions that look like MS.


Multiple sclerosis Treatment

Unlike the rest of the diseases, it is unfortunate that the MS despite being related our nerves doesn’t have a fledged treatment. The medication by far can manage the symptoms and effects of MS.

Disease-Modifying Drugs

If multiple sclerosis called relapsing-remitting MS and condition is acting up, your doctor may first treat with a disease-modifying drug. These medicines slow down the advancement of the disease and prevent any flare-ups.

The drugs work by curbing the immune system — your body’s main defence against germs –– so that it doesn’t attack the protective coating called myelin that surrounds the nerves.

Certain drugs are given in shots such as the injections. They can have a side effect that causes skin sore, red, itchy, or dimply. They are:

Beta interferons:

These are some of the most common drugs used to treat MS. They ease the severity and frequency of flares. They can also cause flu-like symptoms, like aches, fatigue, fever, and chills, but these should fade within a few months.

They may make you slightly more likely to get an infection. That’s because they lower the number of white blood cells, which help your immune system fight illnesses.

  • Interferon-beta-1a (Avonex, Rebif)
  • Interferon beta-1b (Betaseron, Extavia)
  • Peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy)

Glatiramer (Copaxone, Glatopa):

This medication stops your immune system from attacking the myelin that surrounds and protects your nerves.

Medication In pill come in as,

  1. Cladribrine (Mavenclad) is a pill taken once a day for five days for one month and once a day again for the second month. The patient may need another course in a year.

It is not for treating relapsing forms of MS, including relapsing-remitting disease and active secondary progressive disease. It can affect your immune system and make you susceptible to other infections, so you will need to be monitored. You could also have hair loss and experience some rashes.

  1. Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) is a tablet you take twice a day. It can lower your immune cells, so the doctor will do regular blood tests to keep an eye on them. The drug’s most common side effects are flushing, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. An active ingredient similar to the one in Tecfidera is linked to four cases of PML.

Please note that the above medications differ to different patients, considering MS shows up differently. Also, be advised that theses medication can even differ from doctor to doctor country to country.


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