Multiple Sclerosis, often known and abbreviated as MS is a degenerative disease that affects the Central Nervous System. It is considered an inflammatory condition of the nerve cells which can result in loss of motor skills and speech.
- The Central Nervous System consists of the Brain and the spinal cord and they are the first affected during the onset of the disease.
- MS is progressive in nature and the health of the patient deteriorates over time, permanently causing neurological problems.
- MS is an autoimmune disease and is characterized as incurable in nature.
- MS was first observed in 1838.
- An estimated 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide. 200,000 people suffer from MS in India alone.
The underlying causes for the occurrences of MS is vague and remains undiscovered till date, however; researchers have determined the following.
- MS is an autoimmune disease, ie. the immune system of the body malfunctions and begins attacking and destroying the Central Nervous System.
- MS is hereditary in nature.
- Researchers have observed that a huge chunk of the affected patients are geographically placed further away from the equator.
- Bacteria and viruses which cause infections and inflammation to the nerve cells are responsible for triggering the onset of MS.
MS triggers the immune system of the body to destroy the Central Nervous System, thereby disrupting the nerve cell transmission leading to a wide range of the following mental and physical symptoms:
- Partial or complete loss of vision and possibly, prolonged double vision.
- Muscle tremors.
- Loss of motor skills and inability to speak.
- Lhermitte’s sign: intense pain emanating from the back and pulsating to the arms and legs when the neck is exerted to movement.
- Trigeminal Neuralgia: chronic pain affecting the Trigeminal nerve.
Four types of MS have been observed and identified by Medical practitioners.
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS)
- Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS)
- Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS)
- Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)
There is no specific cure discovered for the complete eradication of the disease from the patient's body. Treatments for MS is primarily aimed at slowing down the disease and to reduce the severity of the symptom manifestation.
The following drugs were observed to slow the detrimental effects of MS.
Apart from these, oral administrations of prednisone and intravenous administrations of methylprednisolone are observed to reduce nerve inflammation thereby slowing down the advance of the disease. Plasma Exchange procedures, where the plasma of the blood is removed and exchanged with a prescribed replacement fluid are conducted on patient whose MS is discovered at an earlier stage.
Physical therapy is prescribed for patients in order to rehabilitate and train them to perform everyday tasks. Muscle relaxants are administered to reduce the effect of muscle tremors and stiffness.
Precautions and Home care tips
MS patients do require a lot of care and it is imperative that they should not be left without supervision. The tips and precautions stated below should be followed by a patient's proxy or the family at home.
- Patients affected by MS should be educated and informed about the nature of their disease. This way they do not engage in activities or undergo obscure alternative treatments that may aggravate the disease.
- Therapy is recommended, but patients are advised not to over exert themselves as it can cause more negative impacts than positive.
- Stretching and physical therapy should be performed in a cool environment. Swimming, yoga, tai-chi and water aerobics are recommended.
- Implement a strict diet plan at the behest of your physician or a certified dietician and make sure that the patient observes it.
There is no specific diet plan to slow down the symptoms and effects of Multiple Sclerosis. However; patients are requested to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and are advised to adhere to a healthy diet which is entirely devoid of processed foods.
Here are some of the food components a MS patient should avoid.
- Excess salt
- Refined grains
- Saturated Fats
- Trans Fats