Definition of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a nerve disorder that occurs when the insulating layer surrounding neurons in the brain and spinal cord are destroyed. The disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the movements, sensations, as well as body functions. Myelin, a part of the brain helps in passing electrical signals between the brain and the other parts of the body. Thus when this part is destroyed the brain functioning is less efficient.
Multiple sclerosis affects people between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are more prone to get Multiple sclerosis than men. Strange as it may sound the disease is also especially common to specific races in contrast to others.
Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis. Most people with MS also exhibit paresthesias, transitory abnormal sensory feelings such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles" sensations. Some may also experience pain. Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints. Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss. Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked.
People belonging to the Northern European heritage are more likely to be affected than those belonging to other racial backgrounds. Reports state that Multiple sclerosis rates are registered more in Northern Europe, United States and Canada, than in other parts of the world like Asia, the poles, etc.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
The central nervous system (CNS) controls much of the body's functioning and much of this activity passes through the white matter at some point. It is not surprising, therefore, that a disease which damages white matter can produce a very wide range of symptoms. Indeed, there are few diseases with more potential symptoms than multiple sclerosis. Some of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis may be in various forms of the mild and severe. These symptoms sometimes last for hours and at times for a short duration.
Some of the prominent symptoms of the disease include-:
Visual Symptoms - Multiple sclerosis can cause disturbances in eyesight resulting in a blurred vision, color distortion, blindness in one eye, double vision, jerky eye movements, under or overshooting of eye movements, lack of coordination between the two eyes, flashing lights or abnormal pupil responses.
Motor Symptoms - Multiple sclerosis can cause disturbances in body movements such as, muscle weakness, partial or mild paralysis, paralysis, loss of muscle tone causing stiffness, pain and restricting free movement of affected limbs, slurred speech and related speech problems, wasting of muscles due to lack of use, involuntary contraction of muscles, problems with posture, jerking and twitching muscles, tics, involuntary Leg Movements, especially bothersome at night, foot drags along floor during walking and dysfunctional reflexes.
Sensory Symptoms - Multiple sclerosis can cause disturbances sensory functions such as partial numbness, tingling, buzzing and vibration sensations, complete numbness/loss of sensation, pain without apparent cause, burning, itching and electrical shock sensations, loss of awareness of location of body parts and facial pain.
Bowel, Bladder and Sexual Symptoms - Multiple sclerosis can cause disturbances in body functions such as, urinary urgency and incontinence, urinary hesitancy and retention, male and female impotence, inability to achieve orgasm, ejaculating into the bladder, inability to become sexually aroused, infrequent or irregular bowel movements, bowel urgency and bowel incontinence.
Other Symptoms -Multiple sclerosis can cause disturbances in body functions such as, short-term and long-term memory problems, forgetfulness, slow word recall, impairments to speech comprehension and production, acid reflux, impaired sense of taste and smell, epileptic seizures, swallowing problems, respiratory problems, sleeping disorders and autonomic nervous system problems.
Patients of Multiple Sclerosis also experience mental changes such as, depression, sometimes in maniac forms, and uncontrollable urges to either laugh or cry, and paranoia.
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