What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic illness of the central nervous systems that occurs in episodes. In multiple sclerosis, small inflammable changes develop particularly in the brain, spinal marrow and the visual nerves. Dysfunctions occur with the transmission and processing of nerve impulses as a result of these patches of inflammation and the scars which remain after the inflammation.
Commonness of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological illnesses. There are about 120 000 people in Germany who have multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis predominantly occurs between the ages of 20 and 50.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis are exclusively caused by disturbances in the area of the nervous system. Symptoms can arise individually or in combination and can completely or partially regress.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms:
- Sensory problems (loss of feeling)
- Weakness, stiffness and numbness in arms and legs
- Symptoms of paralysis
- Coordination problems, shivering
- Speech problems
- Impaired vision (foggy or blurred vision, temporary blindness)
- MS-Fatigue: for about 70% of MS patients, MS fatigue is when inadequate, premature, physical, spiritual and mental exhaustion occurs even after the smallest strains.
Course of Multiple Sclerosis
The symptoms as well as the progression of multiple sclerosis are extremely variable. The course of multiple sclerosis can be characterized by episodes of acute deterioration or by gradual progression.
About 30 to 50% of the illnesses that originally had phases of acute deterioration develop into a gradual progressive process with symptoms continuously worsening.
In the beginning, the symptoms usually do not last long. The next episode of multiple sclerosis may occur after many months or even years. As the duration of the illness increases, the symptoms usually do not regress completely and more disabilities emerge.
A reliable prognosis of the progression of multiple sclerosis in individual cases is not possible. Below are a few statistics on multiple sclerosis:
- Ca. 80% of people with multiple sclerosis can still walk after 10 years
- Ca. 50% of people who have multiple sclerosis for more than 15 years remain, to a large extent, unimpaired in their movements.
- Ca. 30% are still completely or have 2/3 of their working capacity left after 20 years of having multiple sclerosis.
Ca. 20% of multiple sclerosis cases hardly develop disabilities even if the disease remains dormant over a long period of time.
Multiple Sclerosis For Dummies
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
The cause of multiple sclerosis is an increased destruction of the myelin sheath of nerve fibres in the brain and spinal marrow.
It is possible that an error in the immune system, which was triggered by a previous virus infection, is responsible. It is assumed, among other things, that a latent slow virus infection which occurred in infancy triggers, only years later, malfunctioning of the body’s own immune system (autoimmune illness) and eventually leads to gradual damage of the myelin sheath.
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is incurable. The symptoms can be lessened by taking different types of medication and by doing exercise therapy.
- Pharmacological Therapy
1st Approach: Immunosuppression (Suppression of the immune response).
It would seem that an immune response that is too strong plays a decisive role in multiple sclerosis. For this reason, it is sought to suppress the immune response by taking medication.
2nd Approach: Immunomodulation (Changing the immune response).
The aim is to influence the immune system, with the help of medication, in such a way that it no longer becomes active against the organism’s own body.
An episode of multiple sclerosis is treated with strong anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Symptomatic Therapy
In symptomatic therapy it is not the multiple sclerosis that is directly treated. The typical multiple sclerosis symptoms are treated, for e.g. spasticity (increased muscle spasms), muscle pain etc…
- Physiotherapeutic Treatment:
Eliminating neurological symptoms of multiple sclerosis is not possible. However, it is possible to considerably lessen spastic stiffening of the extremities, balance problems when walking and standing, joint stiffening and muscle weakness.
- Additional Treatments:
Certain treatment methods have proved themselves over time. These include horse-back riding (hippo therapy) movement and relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, eutonia, yoga and feldenkrais. Occupational therapy is necessary if the patient is having trouble accomplishing everyday tasks as a result of a multiple sclerosis episode.
Multiple Sclerosis and Nutrition
Particular diets may not heal patients with multiple sclerosis but they can improve the general condition. Polyunsaturated fatty acids appear to be important in the diet of multiple sclerosis patients. For this reason the intake of fats for those who have multiple sclerosis should mostly consist of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Many polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in nuts, vegetable oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, wheat germ oil and in fat-rich types of fish. Nicotine and alcohol do not have a negative influence on multiple sclerosis.
The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book