MS is a condition which affects the central nervous system.
What to look for
The first attack is generally mild, lasts only a few days, and is followed by a long period of remission perhaps years before the next episode. Symptoms vary considerably. They include:
- weakness, stiffness, or numbness in one or more limbs.
- sensations of tingling, pins and needles around the limbs or the trunk of the body
- tremors or a lack of balance or coordination.
- blurred or double vision, or rapid, involuntary eye movement.
- bladder or bowel incontinence.
The effects of this disease can range from relatively minor physical annoyances to major disabilities.
In normal cases, the nerves in the body are surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, which permits the efficient transmission of electrical impulses the nerve signals. Multiple sclerosis, or MS, occurs when this protective sheath becomes inflamed sometimes causing damage to the nerves themselves. The nerves may make faulty connections with each other or not work at all. The above symptoms will occur when the transmission of electrical impulses is interrupted.
You may be a teenager when you have the first attack and it may be brief and mild – it may pass unrecognised. You could be much older when you have the next attack and it could last longer.
When the nerves are inflamed repeatedly, they become scarred (sclerosis) and this occurs too quickly to be repaired. How severe the illness is depends on the individual, and varies from person to person. Some can lead normal healthy lives, while others are confined to wheelchairs.
Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable in its on-again, off-again designs and its array of symptoms.
The cause of MS still remains a mystery however, most researchers think the immune system plays a major role. As well as this other researchers believe the disease is an inherited problem. Some say that an extreme emotional shock can trigger an immune response causing MS.
People who eat high fat diets also tend to get this disease more than others.
Some researchers suspect environmental factors. The list of possible culprits includes lead, pesticides, diesel fumes, chemicals in tap water, solvents, fumes from domestic gas water heaters, and carbon monoxide pollution.
It is hard to diagnose and to treat MS as the symptoms vary so much.
In general, medicines are effective only in treating the symptoms of MS, and then only to a limited degree.
Certain treatments have been helpful in patients –
- Steroid treatment
- Diet modification
- Avoidance of gluten
There are many alternative therapies available which may provide some relief from some symptoms, however always make sure that you get Professional advice.
- Exercise is highly recommended (not during an attack and not too strenuous).
- Yoga exercises.
- Regularly working your muscles is advised in order to keep them from atrophying.
Avoid certain foods that can bring on attacks in some MS sufferers: Milk and dairy products, caffeine, yeast, tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, and corn can also prove problematic.
See your Doctor and ask about special diets which may help MS sufferers (Swank Diet).
- Linoleic acid, found in sunflower oil,
- Evening primrose oil
When to seek further professional advice
- you or someone you know has symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis.