Diagnosing and Treating Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that can vary in intensity and present a variety of symptoms. The following information describes the various symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis that aid in diagnosing the disease and the latest treatment options available.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis involves an abnormal response from the body’s immune system against the central nervous system. The immune system then attacks myelin, which is a fatty substance surrounding the nerve fibers. The myelin becomes damaged and forms scar tissue which is called the sclerosis. This causes a disruption of varying degrees in the nerve impulses traveling to and from the spinal cord and brain. The disease can take several different courses and can be mild, moderate, or even severe. Multiple sclerosis can also relapse. This is called exacerbations, which means symptoms may get worse and then better at different times.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
While there are several symptoms that can be associated with multiple sclerosis there are some that are more prominent. The following are a few of the symptoms that are often seen in multiple sclerosis patients.
- Numbness and Tingling – Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, fingers, and face is sometimes one of the first warning signs.
- Vision Problems – Difficulties with vision is one of the most common symptoms associated with this disease.
- Weakness – Nearly 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis will experience weakness and fatigue.
- Dizziness – Some individuals may encounter problems with dizziness and balance. Vertigo and having a feeling that they’re “spinning” is another symptom.
- Cognitive Problems – It’s estimated that about half of all people suffering from multiple sclerosis will suffer from some sort of cognitive issue. A few of these can include shortened attention span and memory problems.
What are the Treatment Options for Multiple Sclerosis?
There is currently still no cure for multiple sclerosis. There are, however, several treatment options available that can help minimize symptoms during exacerbations as well as slow the overall process of the disease. When people have an attack of multiple sclerosis some options include using corticosteroids to help reduce nerve inflammation and using a process called plasma exchange, which is a way to clean the blood.
A drug called teriflunomide was approved in 2012 that has been shown to not only slow the progression of the disease but can also limit relapses. Another medication that may work by stopping the immune system from destroying myelin is Dimethyl Fumarate. These are just a few of the options for treating patients with multiple sclerosis.