Identifying the early signs of MS (multiple sclerosis) is essential for stopping the slow progress of the disease. Science still doesn’t have a cure for MS, a condition which causes episodic attacks and light symptoms.

WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?

MS is a condition caused by inflammation and damage to the central nervous system. Richard Novis, a neurologist from Brazil says that it is caused by an autoimmune mechanism in the body that destroys the myelin sheath, the protective lining of the nerves. This interrupts the nerve impulses that connect the brain to other areas of the body and results in several loss of body functions.

SYMPTOMS OF MS

The early symptoms of the condition are manifested in an episodic manner such as outbreaks with different duration and specific frequency. Each new crisis may be shorter than before or last for a longer period with slowly progressing symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms of MS recognized by the Brazilian Association of Multiple Sclerosis:

MOTOR CHANGES

Tingling and burning sensation in the muscles as well as paresthesia can all be related to MS. If your muscles have begun moving involuntarily and they are more sensitive than before, it may be a sign of MS and will definitely affect your motor function. This may cause urinary tract problems, sexual dysfunction and reduced performance and other muscle problems.

FATIGUE

If you’re often feeling weak and tired even after getting proper rest, it may be a sign of MS.

DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, BIPOLAR DISORDERS

These mental and emotional disorders are sometimes caused by the slow progress of Multiple Sclerosis.

DIFFICULTY SPEAKING

Talking slower than usual and dragging words can be a symptom of MS. This is caused by weakness in the muscles of the mouth which may also cause difficulty swallowing.

DIZZINESS AND LOSS OF BALANCE

Motor abnormalities are common symptoms of MS. When the myelin sheath of the nerves responsible for balance and coordination is affected, you may suffer from loss of balance and focus as well as vertigo and nausea.

PAIN

Pain in the eyes, face, hips, back, arms or legs has been reported as a common symptom for MS.

VISION PROBLEMS

Blurry vision or seeing double affects only a small group of MS patients.

COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS – MEMORY LOSS AND LOSS OF BRAIN FUNCTION

Actress Claudia Rodriguez has experienced cognitive problems that prevented her to read her lines for TV. Loss of brain function is common in a big part of MS patients. They may lead to reduced cognitive performance and some mental activities that you performed well in the past may take more time and effort.

The usual treatment for the condition involves either drugs or therapies that aim to improve the quality of life of the patient. MS drugs work by reducing the inflammation in the nerves and the damage done to the myelin sheath. They only treat the symptoms, though, and are not a long-term solution. During a crisis, patients may be administered steroids for a short period.

MS therapies aim to rehabilitate the neurological system of the patient and relieve the symptoms. They are multidisciplinary and vary on the symptoms of the patient and may include physiotherapy, psychological treatments, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Finally, there’s another treatment that involves the use of stem cells. Stem cell transplantation aims to stabilize and regulate the condition by using bone matrix material of the patient’s blood. The content is then filtered and frozen and applied only after the patient receives a run of chemotherapy. Several studies are trying to determine the long-term effects of stem cell transplantation, but the results so far are very promising.

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