Causes and symptoms of multiple sclerosis

There are certain health conditions that are extremely disabling and eventually affect the quality of life. Multiple sclerosis is one such condition that is known to affect 1 million people in the country and is a potentially disabling condition. Multiple sclerosis is characterized by a malfunctioning immune system that attacks the protective sheath called myelin, which covers nerve fibers and this leads to communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. This health condition causes the nerves to deteriorate or damages them completely.

Multiple sclerosis is a long-lasting disease and it affects the brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerves in the eyes. Different people with multiple sclerosis display different symptoms. While some have mild symptoms and aren’t in need of urgent treatment, others might face mobility issues and this will hinder their daily activities.

Causes of multiple sclerosis
There are no exact causes of multiple sclerosis, but research has indicated that an individual’s genes, where they live, and the air they breathe have some pivotal role in triggering the onset of the condition. The causes of multiple sclerosis are as follows:

  • A malfunctioning immune system– Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system goes haywire and starts attacking the myelin, a protecting sheath that protects the nerve fibers. What causes the immune system to go awry is unknown but this attack on the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord affects the communication process across the entire body, thereby, disabling the individual. When the myelin is affected, the nerves cannot perform their pivotal function of sending messages back and forth the way they should. Also, without the presence of the protective covering, the nerves are eventually damaged. Moreover, if the individual already has other autoimmune conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease, or type 1 diabetes, there are high chances that they will get multiple sclerosis.
  • Effects of the environment– Studies indicate that people who live in certain places or belong to certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to multiple sclerosis. People who live in colder regions are more vulnerable to developing multiple sclerosis. Also, if one smokes, they are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than nonsmokers.

Though these triggers aren’t backed up by substantial evidence, the onset of multiple sclerosis is attributed to a combination of genetics and environmental factors.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary from person to person and depend largely on the location of the affected nerves. The signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

  • Prolonged double vision
  • Numbness or weakness that can occur in one or more limbs (typically, occurring on one side of the body at a time, and can even affect the trunk and legs)
  • Tingling sensation or pain in certain parts of the body
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Partial or complete loss of vision in one eye, and eventually affects both the eyes (this loss of vision is often accompanied by pain during eye movement)
  • Issues with the bowel and bladder function
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors that are accompanied by lack of coordination or unsteady gait
  • Experiencing electric-shock sensations during certain neck movements (especially when the neck is bent forward)