What is multiple sclerosis?


Know the basics

What is multiple sclerosis?

Neurons are the structures in the nervous system that allow us to think, see, hear, speak, feel, eliminate and move. Each neuron is made up of a cell body and an axon (the extension of the cell body that carries messages). Most of the axons in the central nervous system are wrapped in myelin, a fatty substance and proteins that acts like electrical wire insulation. Myelin helps signals move along nerves.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, lifelong illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In MS, myelin becomes damaged or inflamed, interrupts nerve signals, causing damage to the underlying nerve fiber and other symptoms. People can have only one mild symptom, very few symptoms, or many symptoms with severe disability, for example damaged areas (lesions or scars) along the nerve, which can be detected on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or allows or halts nerve conduction.

How common is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is common. It commonly affects more females than males and in temperate climates more than the tropics, in younger persons, with those aged 15 to 60. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for more information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

Symptoms improve (during remissions) and then can worsen. Symptoms depend on whether the brain or spinal cord is affected and which areas are involved. Symptoms of brain involvement may include:

  • Blurred or double vision;
  • Thinking problems;
  • Clumsiness or a lack of coordination;
  • Loss of balance;
  • Numbness;
  • Tingling;
  • Weakness in an arm or leg.
  • Loss of bladder control and numbness.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes multiple sclerosis?

Most cases of peritonitis are the result of infection or injury to another part of the body, such as:

  • A split stomach ulcer;
  • A burst appendix;
  • Digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis.

An infection that develops within the peritoneum isn’t common and can be caused by:

  • Cirrhosis – scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage;
  • Peritoneal dialysis – a widely used treatment for people with kidney failure.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for multiple sclerosis?

There are many risk factors for multiple sclerosis, such as:

  • Genetic factors.
  • People who live in northern latitudes (especially Northern European countries) were previously identified as having a higher incidence of MS.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?

No specific test proves the diagnosis. The doctor will suggest seeing a neurologist (specialist in nervous system diseases). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spinal tap, and visual-evoked response may be done.

MRI shows areas where myelin is inflamed or destroyed. In a spinal tap, the doctor takes a sample of fluid from the spinal cord for study.

How is multiple sclerosis treated?

MS cannot be cured, but many treatments are available to control the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Both the disease and complications (e.g., spastic movements, fatigue, pain, thinking problems, and bladder and bowel problems) are


Corticosteroid drugs are the main treatment to control symptoms. Medicines such as interferon beta-la and -lb and glatiramer slow MS progress and reduce the number of relapses.

Medicines used for complications include amantadine, baclofen, gabapentin, oxybutynin, propantheline, stool softeners, psyllium, fiber, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs

(NSAIDs), and acetaminophen.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting enough rest and exercise, and keeping to a normal weight are important.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage multiple sclerosis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Multiple sclerosis:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Exercise. If you have mild to moderate MS, regular exercise can help improve your strength, muscle tone, balance and coordination. Swimming or other water exercises are good options if you’re bothered by heat. Other types of mild to moderate exercise recommended for people with MS include walking, stretching, low-impact aerobics, stationary bicycling, yoga and tai chi.
  • Cool down. MS symptoms often worsen when your body temperature rises. Avoiding exposure to heat and using devices such as cooling scarves or vests can be helpful.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Results of small studies suggest that a diet low in saturated fat but high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in olive and fish oils, may be beneficial. But further research is needed. Studies also suggest that vitamin D may have potential benefit for people with MS.
  • Relieve stress. Stress may trigger or worsen your signs and symptoms. Yoga, tai chi, massage, meditation or deep breathing may help.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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