Multiple sclerosis, often abbreviated to MS, is achronic condition that is caused by nerve damage. This nerve damage affects the central nervous system of a sufferer in many ways, causing a huge variety of symptoms among those with the disease. In multiple sclerosis, the sufferers immune system attacks the own person’s myelin, an important protective layer around nerve fibres required for healthy function. It is the different ways that these fibres can be attacked that result in such inconsistent symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis, so in this article we take a closer look at some of the more basic aspects of MS to give you a better idea of what it might involve.
How multiple sclerosis develops
Because people can have such different symptoms with MS, meaning, perception and experiences of the disease can be quite different depending on who might ask. The onset and duration of these symptoms can also differ to a significant extent, and it is possible for people with MS to receive four different MS-related diagnoses. Despite people experiencing many characteristics associated with MS, Clinically Isolated Syndrome differs to the other courses to an extent as someone may only every experience it once. If the symptoms were to again demonstrate themselves, they may then be diagnosed as having Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), the most common multiple sclerosis disease course. It is believed that 85% of all sufferers have RRMS, with this course consisting of occasional relapses. For people with multiple sclerosis, relapses are periods where symptoms will present themselves for a small period of time before disappearing once more – this is called a remission period. Periods between these relapses are unpredictable, and some patients may find they have long stretches without a relapse, while others may experience them semi-regularly.
The potential pathways of multiple sclerosis
Over time, increased damage to the body of a patient can cause new symptoms to occur and may even signal a new disease course. One potential course may be secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), and this is one that can directly follow am initial relapsing-remitting course. The secondary progressive multiple sclerosiscourse results in aworsening of neurologic function that does not improve over time, but in spite of this, remissions are still possible. For people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), neurologic function will worsen over time from the onset of symptoms but there is no respite through remissions. It is believed that approximately 15 percent of people with multiple sclerosis are diagnosed with PPMS, and among these individuals the course will be labelled as either active (occasional relapses and the potential for new MRI activity) or inactive.
Take precautions when possible
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable and complex disease that can run very different courses for different people. Although it can be difficult to tie down specifics and make them applicable across the board, it’s extremely useful knowing and understanding about all the potential courses the disease might take. If you’re looking to learn more about your own symptoms or those of a loved one, seeking out the advice of your GP can be an excellent way to supplement information from around the internet.