Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). Due to this disorder, your immune system attacks myelin, which is the protective sheath covering the nerve fibers. As a result, communication between your brain and body is hampered.
Causes of multiple sclerosis
The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is still uncertain. However, some factors that cause this disorder are as follows:
- Immune system
If the immune system is compromised, it may attack the CNS. The myelin protective sheath is affected, thereby disrupting the functioning of your brain, resulting in multiple sclerosis.
Certain viruses and bacteria can cause multiple sclerosis. Some viruses cause inflammation that breaks down the myelin, triggering multiple sclerosis. It is possible that brain-cell-like bacteria and viruses can cause the immune system to erroneously identify normal cells as foreign cells, thereby destroying them. Some of the viruses and bacteria that can cause multiple sclerosis include Epstein-Barr virus, measles viruses, and human herpesvirus-6 causing disorders like roseola.
One can be highly susceptible to multiple sclerosis if one has a family history of this disorder. The possibility of one developing this disorder in such instances increases by 2.5% to 5% in the country. For an average individual, the possibility is roughly 0.1%. Multiple sclerosis patients are born with genetic susceptibility to unfamiliar environmental agents, which triggers an auto-immune response.
- Environmental factors
Epidemiologists have noticed a higher number of multiple sclerosis patients in countries that are far from the Equator. This may be a correlation with Vitamin D as it is believed to be highly beneficial for the immune system. Since people living in countries closer to the Equator receive plenty of sunlight, their bodies produce more Vitamin D, which reduces the risk.
Symptoms of MS
Symptoms vary and depend on the affected nerves and extent of nerve damage. Severe multiple sclerosis patients may be unable to walk independently, while some patients may experience long periods with no symptoms. Some common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:
- Weakness or numbness in the limbs of one side of the body, or trunk and legs
- Unsteady gait, trembling, and lack of coordination
- Lhermitte sign, where you may feel electrical shock-like sensation with neck movements especially while bending forward
- Issues with vision, such as partial or complete loss of sight in one eye, experiencing pain while moving the eyes, blurry vision, or long periods of double vision
- Sexual, bladder, and bowel functioning trouble
- Slurred speech
- Pain or tingling sensation in various parts of the body
- Fatigue and tiredness
Risk factors causing MS
- Although the disorder may appear at any age, people between the ages of 16 and 55 years are more commonly affected
- Smokers who may experience MS-like symptoms initially are more likely to relapse
- Women are twice or three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than men
- Autoimmune disorders like inflammatory bowel disease or type-1 diabetes can increase the possibility of developing multiple sclerosis
- Countries with temperate weather conditions see a higher number of multiple sclerosis patients
- Infections and lack of Vitamin D can also trigger multiple sclerosis