This Is What You Need To Know About Multiple Sclerosis

by | Nov 16, 2016 | Health

Photography by Pixabay

What you really need to know about the autoimmune disorder 

You’ve kind-of, maybe heard about it, but actually totally don’t know what it is. Fear not! Here’s a break down of what exactly multiple sclerosis is.

It’s An Autoimmune Disease 

There are as many as 80 autoimmune diseases, and they’re all caused when your body recognises its own cells as foreign and attacks them. The effects are widespread and can result in a multitude of disorders. “MS is an autoimmune condition”, says Dr Dominic Giampaolo, a Johannesburg neurologist with a special interest in MS, “meaning that a person’s immune system attacks their own central nervous system. The immune cells destroy the fatty (myelin) sheath that surrounds and insulates the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, interrupting efficient communication between cells. Depending on where this occurs, the initial symptoms can be variable and seemingly unrelated. They include blurred or double vision; blindness; difficulties with co-ordination, balance and walking; spasticity; incontinence; cognitive problems and extreme tiredness. Symptoms may get worse with exercise, stress or heat.”

Are You At Risk? 

Women with Type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease are said to be more at risk for MS. Plus, it’s more common in caucasian women. But the exact cause of MS is unknown. Genetic factors contribute to MS risk and people with a first degree relative are approximately 9 times more likely to develop MS than those without MS in the family. Other factors that are thought to play a role include sunlight exposure, vitamin D deficiency, smoking and infection with the Epstein Barr virus (EBV), a kind of herpes.

Still not sure? Check out this useful video from AsapScience, to know more about multiple sclerosis.

Wanna know more? Check out the Multiple Sclerosis Society of South Africa here or here. Information for this story supplied by MSSA.

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