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Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that may affect any area of the brain and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis does not affect nerve cells. Multiple sclerosis affects transmission of electrical signals to nerve cells. Multiple sclerosis is the most common cause of chronic neurological disability in young adults. Multiple sclerosis is not contagious.

As multiple sclerosis progresses, problems of sight become serious, such as dimness of vision, partial blindness, double vision, and the inability to control the movement of the eyeball.

Multiple sclerosis is also called MS.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. However, researchers believe multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory process that attacks a substance in the nervous system called myelin.

Myelin is an important substance. It surrounds the cells in the nervous system and facilitates rapid transmission of signals up and down neurons. When myelin is broken down, nerve impulses travel slower, causing symptoms that are characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis causes symptoms and signs that vary unpredictably over decades, and may relapse, progress, or undergo spontaneous remission.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary greatly depending on the site of inflammation. In general they affect sensory or motor function causing patients to experience fatigue, numbness, tremor, loss of vision, pain, paralysis, loss of balance, and bladder and bowel dysfunction, painful muscle spasms and numbness in the entire body. Men may experience erectile dysfunction. Women may have a loss of libido or difficulty reaching orgasm. Multiple sclerosis attacks can last for more than 24 hours.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be triggered by exercise, exertion, or with increased body temperatures. When symptoms are triggered by increased body temperatures, they usually cease when the body temperature is returned to normal.

Multiple Sclerosis in the News

New research finds there may be a link between a common virus (Epstein Barr) and multiple sclerosis.

Epstein Barr sometimes causes mononucleosis, and researchers at Harvard report that women who show signs of having been exposed to the virus — even those likely exposed as children — appear to have a much higher chance of developing multiple sclerosis, as much as four times as great as women without the exposure.

But the researchers caution the correlation does not mean that Epstein Barr causes MS, a very serious nerve illness.

Multiple Sclerosis Statistics

  • Multiple sclerosis affects women twice as much as it affects men
  • An identical twin of a person who has multiple sclerosis have a 25-percent chance of getting the disease
  • There are approximately 350,000 people in the US with multiple sclerosis
  • There are about 2.5 million people worldwide with multiple sclerosis.
  • Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system which affects Canadians more frequently than most other countries in the world.
  • Multiple sclerosis can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis
  • Multiple sclerosis was first identified and described by a French neurologist, Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, in 1868.
  • Sclerosis means scars...these are the plaques or lesions in the brain and spinal cord
  • Life span is not significantly affected by multiple sclerosis.
  • Many of the symptoms of multiple Sclerosis can be successfully managed and treated.

Scoliosis and Multiple Sclerosis Support Groups

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