Disseminated Sclerosis, more popularly known as Multiple Sclerosis, is the disease of the Central Nervous System (the main component of which is the brain and the spinal cord). It is widely accepted as an autoimmune disease, a result of the body attacking its own structures, wherein the cells of the body and the immune system and its chemicals which were supposed to protect the body against invasion of disease-causing components attack the myelin sheath or the covering of the never cells instead. Thus causing damage or demyelination, scars or sclerosis and inflammation.
Although multiple sclerosis affects men, women are at higher risks of developing this autoimmune disease, making them 2 to 3 times more likely to develop the condition. It is typically found among people aged 20 to 50 years old.
The myelin sheath that is largely affected by this disease is the protective insulation of the neurons. Without this, it would be quite impossible for the neurons to transmit nerve impulses between each other. Thus, patients of multiple sclerosis suffer from phlegmatic transference of nerve signals which make them somewhat incapable of responding to external and internal stimuli, somewhat unable to interpret sensations correctly and their body movements become less coordinated. Like damages to electrical wires, multiple sclerosis prevents the fast delivery of brain signals to all parts of the body.
No one is certain what causes this disease. What is only known is that it is a product of an abnormal immune system response which turns out to be harmful to the protective coating of the neurons. Theories such as a triggering illness, virus or other agents during childhood are being tested though.
Diagnoses to determine the presence of the disease are not conclusive though they may show strong indications of the presence of multiple sclerosis. Tests such as MRI and analysis of the cerebral fluids may potentially establish the onset of the disease. The best thing physicians and specialists can do is to rule out other conditions that may evoke the same symptoms.
Demyelination may happen at any time, to any part of the brain and the spinal cord with no known reason. The location of the damage determines what symptoms will manifest and how severe the symptoms will be. Thus, making each episode or relapse different from one person to another and from one occasion to another. There are common symptoms though which include fatigue, severe headache, weakness and numbness of the extremities, loss of balance, lack of coordination, visual problems, incontinence due to loss of bladder control, loss of bowel movement control, depression and other severe emotional conditions, difficulty of speaking, and minor and severe cognitive problems. The combination of these symptoms differs on which parts of the brain or the spinal cord are damaged and how severe the damage is.
While multiple sclerosis can advance to more aggravated stages where functions are seriously debilitated, it is, nevertheless, neither fatal nor contagious. Though many deaths have been associated with the diseases due, in part, to its capacity to lessen life expectancy.
Healing after a relapse may occur. However since damages to the myelin sheath are permanent, there is a high possibility that the effects of such damages are permanent. There is very small chance of reverting to the pre-onset conditions even with medications and therapies. There are currently no available cures for this disease though symptom-control treatments can be availed to provide short-term relief. On-going clinical trials and research are yet to bring new lights to the nature of the disease and treatments.