Multiple Sclerosis - What is it?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) where the body's own immune cells attack the nervous system. In Multiple Sclerosis, inflammation of nervous tissue causes the loss of myelin, a fatty material that acts as a sort of protective insulation for the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. This demyelination leaves multiple areas of scar tissue (sclerosis) along the covering of the nerve cells, which disrupts the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain, producing the various symptoms of multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis-Causes, symptoms, and risk factors The cause of multiple Sclerosis is unknown. Geographic studies indicate there may be an environmental factor involved. Multiple Sclerosis is more likely to occur in northern Europe, the northern United States, southern Australia, and New Zealand than in other areas.
Symptoms of multiple Sclerosis vary because the location and extent of each attack varies. There is usually a stepwise progression of the disorder, with episodes that last days, weeks, or months alternating with times of reduced or no symptoms (remission). Recurrence (relapse) is common although non-stop progression without periods of remission may also occur.
The exact cause of the inflammation associated with multiple Sclerosis is unknown. An increase in the number of immune cells in the body of a person with multiple Sclerosis indicates that there may be a type of immune response that triggers the disorder. The most frequent theories about the cause of multiple sclerosis include a virus-type organism, an abnormality of the genes responsible for control of the immune system, or a combination of both factors.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects approximately 1 out of 1,000 people. More women are affected than men are. The disorder most commonly begins between ages 20 and 40, but can strike at any age. Risks include a family history of multiple Sclerosis and living in a geographical area with a higher incidence rate for multiple Sclerosis.