Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. This causes problems that develop in the brain, spinal cord and eyes, which leads to symptoms to such as numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, problems with coordination and/or balance, memory problems, sudden vision changes and oversensitivity to heat.
When MS occurs in children prior to the age of 18, is it referred to as Pediatric MS. It is extremely rare for MS to develop before this age, however when it does, it often presents much worse prognosis than when diagnosed in adults, with approx. 98% of child patients undergoing a relapsing-remitting course of the disease that progressively worsens over time.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms can include vision problems, muscle spasms, fatigue, weakness, coordination issues, numbness in the arms and/or legs, and often memory problems.
The first symptoms of MS that appear most common are vision related issues, often problems such as optic neuritis, blurriness and pain in one eye.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, clinical evaluation, and various diagnostic tests. The process of diagnosing MS typically involves the following steps:
1. Medical History and Physical Examination: The neurologist will take a detailed medical history, including the patient’s symptoms, their onset, and their progression. A thorough physical examination will also be conducted to look for signs of neurological dysfunction.
2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI scans of the brain and spinal cord are commonly used in the diagnostic process. These images can reveal areas of demyelination (the characteristic feature of MS) and help rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
3. Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis: A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be performed to analyze the cerebrospinal fluid for the presence of certain abnormalities, such as elevated levels of specific proteins and the presence of oligoclonal bands, which are associated with MS.
4. Evoked Potentials: This test measures the electrical activity of the nerves in response to stimuli. Abnormalities in evoked potentials can suggest damage to the nerves caused by MS.
5. Blood Tests: Blood tests are often conducted to rule out other conditions that may mimic MS symptoms and to ensure there are no underlying medical issues contributing to the neurological symptoms.
6. Clinical Diagnosis: The diagnosis of MS is made based on the combination of clinical evidence, such as the patient’s symptoms and neurological examination, and the results of diagnostic tests. There are also established diagnostic criteria, such as the McDonald criteria, that help neurologists determine if a patient’s symptoms and test results are consistent with a diagnosis of MS.
It’s important to note that MS can be challenging to diagnose because it shares symptoms with other conditions, and there is no single definitive test for MS. The diagnostic process may require time and the collaboration of healthcare professionals, including neurologists and specialists in multiple sclerosis. Early diagnosis is crucial for effective management of the condition and to initiate appropriate treatment.
There are four types of multiple sclerosis, which include:
Other early signs and symptoms of MS can include:
In addition, pediatric MS has several distinctive features such as optic neuritis, transverse myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and monofocal or polyfocal neurological deficits. MRI scans have also shown a heavy burden of T2-hyperintense lesions on the the supratentorial region and/or of the cervical spinal cord; suggesting a high loss of demyelination and axonal responsible for feeling, seeing and certain movements.
Multiple sclerosis can lead to disability, but most people with MS will continue to lead full, active and productive lives.
When left untreated, or treated improperly, the symptoms of MS will gradually worsen can eventually lead to serious conditions such as:
Depending on the severity of the disease, together with the rate at which it progresses, 15% of patients may never need assistance walking, 10% often need assistance with ambulation within 5 years, whilst another 5-10% may live up to 15 years before disabilities necessitate permanent assistance.
Although there may not be a cure for MS, effective treatments that focus on managing symptoms can help reduce replace and some times slow the progression of the condition.
FDA approved medications that help prevent new lesions from forming on the brain and spinal cord to reduce relapses and slow progression.
For severe attack, a high dose of corticosteroids may be recommended. This reduces inflammation quickly, and can slow damage to the myelin sheath surrounding your nerve cells.
Employed to maintain mobility and physical strength. Can greatly improve quality of life making everyday tasks and chores more managable.
Starts a course of powerful medicaionts, such as immune-suppressing drugs, and moves on to even more powerful treatments when necessary.
One of the medications used to treat relapsing-remitting MS that’s getting worse (also used as a chemotherapy drug for other types of cancer)
People with MS can experience temporary worsening of their symptoms in high heat or high humidity, or during extreme cold or change in temperature, therefore maintaining a comfortable climate indoors can also help.
Of all new 100,000 MS cases diagnosed each year, around 6-7% are reported to occur in children – which translates into 1 in every 6000-7000 children.
MS is another extremely rare disease. It is reported to affect just 1% of the worlds 7+ billion individuals.
Unfortunately it’s not possible to prevent or cure MS, however it can be managed by adhering to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintain low stress levels, refraining from smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
All these changes have been show to improve the quality of life, and more important, some time slow the progression of the disease for most patients living with MS.
Developing multiple sclerosis is reported to reduce a patients life span by an average of approx. 5-10 years.
It can make a huge difference in daily life to have your loved ones join your support team. And they can help in many ways. For instance, they may be able to handle such household chores.
As your MS progresses, you may reach a point where you need help from beyond your family and friends. You may want to decide together what support you need, such as from a nurse aide or a housekeeper. Services may cover your medical, psychological, personal care, or companionship needs.
Heat or high humidity can cause many people with MS to experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms. Doctors believe that this occurs because heat causes nerves (whose myelin covering has been removed by MS) to conduct electrical signals even less efficiently. For reasons that are not well understood, extremely cold temperatures and changes in temperature can also cause MS symptoms, usually spasticity (muscle stiffness), to flare.