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Typical Health Site MS Info

Typical MS Information on Most Health Sites Today

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease of the nervous system in which communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted. Its effects can range from relatively mild in most cases to somewhat disabling to devastating. The symptoms may mysteriously occur and then disappear. In the worst cases, a person with MS may be unable to write, speak, or walk. About 350,000 Americans have MS, with most cases occurring between 20 – 45 years of age.

During an MS attack, inflammation occurs in areas of the white matter (pale-colored nerve tissue) of the central nervous system in random patches called plaques. This is followed by destruction of myelin, the fatty covering that protects nerve cell fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin allows for the smooth, high-speed transmission of electrochemical messages between the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the body. When myelin is damaged, neurological transmission of messages may be slowed or blocked completely, resulting in diminished or lost function.

Prognosis/Possible Complications

About 70% of patients experience attacks and remissions, and about half of these undergo a chronic, progressive worsening after about 10 years. Ten to 15% of patients experience a chronic, progressive worsening of the disease from the initial onset. Fifteen to 20% of patients have a relatively mild course of disease. Most MS patients live for 30 years or more, many still working and mobile.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weakness in motor skills and loss of muscle coordination
  • Tingling, numbness, dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Memory loss, problem-solving difficulties
  • Mood disturbances

Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.

Who’s Most At Risk?

People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk for developing MS:

  • First-degree relatives with MS
  • Age between 20 and 40
  • Living in the northern latitudes for the first 15 years of life
  • North European, North American, or Scandinavian ancestry
  • Immune response genes

What to Expect at Your Provider’s Office

If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms associated with MS, you should see your health care provider. Your health care provider will take a history of clinical symptoms, check for neurological problems, and refer you for lab tests, such as a cerebrospinal fluid exam and agar gel electrophoresis, and imaging procedures, such as a computed tomography scan (CT scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment Plan

The primary goal of a treatment plan is to reduce the severity of attacks through the use of certain medications and to extend the individual’s physical functioning for as long as possible.

Drug Therapies

Your health care provider may prescribe the following medications:

  • Steroids with anti-inflammatory properties to reduce severity of attacks
  • Beta interferon to decrease myelin destruction, reduce frequency and severity of attacks, and slow progression of disease
  • Immunotherapy, antigen-targeting, cytokines, and remyelination are experimental therapies that may alter the course of the disease

More Detail On Causes

While the cause (etiology) of MS is still not known, scientists believe that a combination of several factors may be involved. Studies are ongoing in the areas of immunology (the science of the body’s immune system), epidemiology (that looks at patterns of disease in the population), and genetics in an effort to answer this important question. Understanding what causes MS will be an important step toward finding more effective ways to treat it and—ultimately—cure it, or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.

The major scientific theories about the causes of MS include the following:

Immunologic

It is now generally accepted that MS involves an autoimmune process—an abnormal response of the body’s immune system that is directed against the myelin(the fatty sheath that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers) in the central nervous system (CNS—the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). The exact antigen, or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack, remains unknown. In recent years, however, researchers have been able to identify which immune cells are mounting the attack, some of the factors that cause them to attack, and some of the sites, or receptors, on the attacking cells that appear to be attracted to the myelin to begin the destructive process. Ongoing efforts to learn more about the autoimmune process in MS—what sets it in motion, how it works, and how to slow or stop it—are bringing us closer to understanding the cause of MS.

Environmental

MS is known to occur more frequently in areas that are farther from the equator. Epidemiologists—scientists who study disease patterns—are looking at many factors, including variations in geography, demographics (age, gender, and ethnic background), genetics, infectious causes, and migration patterns, in an effort to understand why. Studies of migration patterns have shown that people born in an area of the world with a high risk of MS who then move to an area with a lower risk before the age of 15, acquire the risk of their new area. Such data suggest that exposure to some environmental agent that occurs before puberty may predispose a person to develop MS later on.

Some scientists think the reason may have something to do with vitamin D (.pdf), which the human body produces naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight. People who live closer to the equator are exposed to greater amounts of sunlight year-round. As a result, they tend to have higher levels of naturally-produced vitamin D, which is thought to have a beneficial impact on immune function and may help protect against autoimmune diseases like MS. The possible relationship between MS and sunlight exposure is currently being looked at in a Society-funded epidemiological study in Australia.

Other scientists study MS clusters—which are defined as higher-than-expected numbers of cases of MS that have occurred over a specific time period and/or in a certain area. These clusters are of interest because they may provide clues to environmental (such as environmental and industrial toxins, diet, or trace metal exposures) factors that might cause or trigger the disease. So far, cluster studies have not produced clear evidence for the existence of any triggering factor or factors in MS.

Infectious

Since initial exposure to numerous viruses, bacteria and other microbes occurs during childhood, and since viruses are well recognized as causes of demyelination and inflammation, it is possible that a virus or other infectious agent is the triggering factor in MS. More than a dozen viruses and bacteria, including measles, canine distemper, human herpes virus-6, Epstein-Barr, and Chlamydia pneumonia have been or are being investigated to determine if they are involved in the development of MS, but none have been definitively proven to trigger MS. Read more on viruses as the cause of MS

Genetic

While MS is not hereditary in a strict sense, having a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling with MS increases an individual’s risk of developing the disease several-fold above the risk for the general population. Studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of certain genes in populations with higher rates of MS. Common genetic factors have also been found in some families where there is more than one person with MS. Some researchers theorize that MS develops because a person is born with a genetic predisposition to react to some environmental agent that, upon exposure, triggers an autoimmune response. Sophisticated new techniques for identifying genes may help answer questions about the role of genes in the development of MS.

So what does WebMD and the Mayo Clinic have to say on this topic?

As you would expect nothing new. Given their need to not offend the most conservative physicians and also to not risk criticism or controversy, it is more party line stuff from the disease care model industry.

[CLICK HERE] to view WebMD’s treatment information which is typical of health sites today but sheds no light on leading research or exciting treatment breakthroughs.

[CLICK HERE] to view Mayo Clinic’s information on treatment options for MS sufferers. The Mayo offers a little more on lifestyle and home care. You can read it by [Clicking Here]. Its brevity is shocking given all the published research on natural remedies.

[CLICK HERE] for a short article on the exciting progress in natural remedies helping MS patients.

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