The Unchartered World of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that largely strikes young adults. No-one can be sure of the true figure because MS can be extremely difficult to diagnose So much so that some people may go through their entire lives without ever knowing they have the disease.
It's a distressing disease which has doctors and scientists mystified on all fronts. Diagnosis is not the only problem. Researchers are still battling to identify the exact causes of Multiple Sclerosis and that all important cure is also proving elusive.
Meanwhile sufferers face the frustration of frequent misdiagnoses and a bewildering array of symptoms which are rarely shared by any two patients. One MS sufferer may experience mild and infrequent symptoms which are little more than an inconvenience. Another may suffer permanent paralysis and a change of personality that shatters the lives of their loved ones.
Most patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s but doctors are now seeing an increase in the number of youngsters with the. Because the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are so many and varied, some people wait years for an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms such as eyesight problems, difficulty in walking, clumsiness and memory loss can all too easily be attributed to other conditions or overlooked entirely.
When outlandish British rock star Ozzy Osborne was told he had MS in the early 1990s he decided to retire from the music business and started organizing a series of farewell concerts. A few months later he discovered he didn't have Multiple Sclerosis at all. The symptoms of the disease, whether mild or severely debilitating, all arise from damage to the protective sheath surrounding the nerves of the central nervous system. The damage to this nerve covering (known as myelin) disrupts the smooth flow of signals from the brain to other parts of the body. The patient's body becomes the equivalent of a faulty electrical switchboard.
But why does a person's immune system suddenly start attacking this vital body tissue? Can anything be done to stop the process? And is it possible to repair the damaged nerve covering? These are the crucial questions which scientists are still battling to find answers to. Clues to the cause of MS might lie in the geographical spread of the disease which is far more prevalent in some countries (including Scotland and Canada ) than others. And as for the cure, pioneering work in the field of stem cell research could prove to be the Holy Grail long sought after by all those whose lives have been touched by this disease.