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Health A to Z

What Is It Like To Live With Multiple Sclerosis, An Autoimmune Disorder

Dr. Pragnya Rao

It is a chronic illness that can affect your brain, spinal cord & the optic nerves in your eyes.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease condition which affects the nervous system. In this condition, the immune system of the body starts attacking the protective “myelin” covering around the nerves which leads to severe nerve damage and deterioration. 

Effects of multiple sclerosis are different for different cases but some of the common signs are problems with vision, balance, physical activities and muscle control. 

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis

The symptoms are not only different for each case, but it can change during the course of the disease as well. Some of the commonly noticed symptoms are-

If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms for reasons that are not obvious or apparent, then a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Risk factors of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease the exact causes to which are unknown. The protective coating of myelin which covers nerve endings is destroyed by the body’s own immune system and the nerve’s ability to transmit signals is hampered. While it is not exactly clear why certain people develop this condition, the causes seem to be a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Some of the known risks associated with developing this condition are-

  • Age- While this condition can occur in any age group, it most commonly happens to people in the age group of 16-55 years.
  • GenderWomen are twice or thrice more likely to develop this autoimmune disorder as compared to men.
  • Family history of this conditionIf an either of the parents or a sibling has multiple sclerosis then it is definitely a risk factor for developing this condition.
  • Certain pre-existing infectionsCertain viral infections such as Epstein-Barr and mononucleosis have shown a connection with multiple sclerosis. 
  • EthnicityWhite population particularly those from a northern European descent are at the highest risk of developing this condition. People of Asian, African and Native American descent are at the lowest risk. 
  • Deficiency of vitamin D- Vitamin D deficiency and lack of exposure to sunlight pose a risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
  • Certain diseases- Conditions like thyroid disorders, type-I diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease poses a slight risk of developing this condition.
  • SmokingSmokers who experience the initial or first wave of symptoms are at a greater risk of falling into a relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis as compared to non-smokers.

There are no specific tests to exactly confirm multiple sclerosis and the diagnosis often involves ruling out other conditions that show similar symptoms. Confirming multiple sclerosis requires a thorough medical evaluation and a detailed history of the patient.

Attacks of multiple sclerosis are often treated with anti-inflammatory agents and plasma exchange therapy. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or know someone who is going through them, then consult online instantly with a doctor and get it checked. It can get especially debilitating to experience the symptoms of multiple sclerosis during the lockdown but thankfully, doctors are immediately available online for a consult.  Download the MFine app today.

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