The Signs of This Autoimmune Disease and How to Live With It

By Trista
The Signs of This Autoimmune Disease and How to Live With It

Human lives are filled with uncertainties. You never know what might happen in your life when you are busy living. From accidents, mishaps to life-threatening diseases, humans are vulnerable to health risks. While accidents cannot be restricted, we can surely tame the conditions and set free our body and mind from its wraths. Whether it is to blame the malicious lifestyle or unhealthy life practices, there are plenty of diseases on the earth that can pose severe threats to humanity.

Immunity diseases are the most common and threatening disease that you must be acquainted with. In these diseases, your immune system is attacked, making you prone to allergies and other fatal ailments. In this article, you will get to know about autoimmune disease, i.e., multiple sclerosis. You can learn a lot about this disease discussing the primary causes, symptoms, and treatments of multiple sclerosis.

Seeing your doctor as soon as possible starts faster treatment. Shutterstock

What is Multiple Sclerosis And What You Should Know

You must have heard about many autoimmune diseases where your own immune system becomes the villain of your body and attacks it. Multiple sclerosis is one such severe autoimmune disease where your immune system slowly starts eating up the protective layer of your nervous system. Multiple sclerosis damages the nerves brutally and interrupts the connection between your brain and the body resulting in several physical and mental ailments. This autoimmune disease can affect some of the major parts of your body, including the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerves of your eye. 

Multiple sclerosis at its best can cause vision issues, muscle control, and essential functions of your body. When the connection between your brain and body is disrupted, you can experience several mental and physical difficulties in performing your daily tasks, as well. The effects of multiple sclerosis are different in different people. Sometimes the intensity of this autoimmune disease is mild that does not require any treatment; other times, it can take a severe toll on your health-damaging your body in different ways.

MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheaths surrounding nerves. Shutterstock

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis happens when a fatty material, myelin attacks your immune system. It wraps itself around nerve fibers (a protective coating on your nerves), eventually damaging it. Myelin is similar to the insulin coating on the electrical wires that protects it from shock and earthing. When this outer shell is damaged, and nerves are exposed, your brain becomes incapable of sending signals to your body that controls everything. The process of sending and receiving messages becomes slower or blocked that generates several malfunctions in the body. As a result, you can’t work and think properly. Some of the significant consequences of multiple sclerosis are fatigue, trouble walking, vision problems, sexual issues, numbness, weak bladder, pain, depression, and memory loss.

All these consequences are quite scary as they can seriously disrupt your healthy lifestyle. Hence, it is crucial to know its causes and try to minimize the risk factors. When it comes to understanding what causes multiple sclerosis, there are no specific findings. Even though the reasons are unknown, some elements increase the probability of the disease. Faulty genes are among the common causes of multiple sclerosis. Excessive smoking can also make you more prone to this disease. 

There have been instances where people have developed multiple sclerosis after they got a viral infection, such as the Epstein Barr virus that stops the immune system from working properly. Scientists are working on finding the link between viruses and the human immune system and what can possibly cause multiple sclerosis in humans. Studies have proved that vitamin D that is sourced from sunlight is highly effective in strengthening our immune system.  

Some theories that scientists have framed over the years regarding the causes of multiple sclerosis are:

  • Geography: As mentioned earlier, vitamin D is a good source to boost your immune system; people living in colder regions are more likely to have MS than the people living in the warmer areas. It is essential to extract vitamin D from the sun to protect your body from this autoimmune disease.
  • Genetics: Genetics plays a significant role in developing MS in people. For instance, if an identical twin is suffering MS, the other twin will have 20-40 percent chances of developing it too. Similarly, siblings also have 3-5 percent chances.
  • Vaccines: Extensive research has been conducted to conclude that vaccines are also responsible for causing multiple sclerosis.
  • Epstein-Barr Virus: Exposing to this virus can also make you vulnerable to MS. Some studies have proven that people who are exposed to the EBV and got themselves infected are more likely to catch MS.
Everyone is affected differently. Shutterstock

What are Different Types of Multiple Sclerosis?

Every multiple sclerosis has a different form, symptoms, and treatments. Hence it is important to understand its type to deploy the right treatment. So far, a few major types of multiple sclerosis that are prevailing globally today. These categories help in ascertaining the severity of multiple sclerosis and deploying the appropriate treatment for the same. 

Getting a diagnosis early is key. Shutterstock

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Around 85% of people who have multiple sclerosis falls under this category. Usually, this stage comes in the early 20s, and early signs start around this age. After this, people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis will witness relapses for weeks and months, and sometimes for years, this condition prevails. The time gap between the relapses determines the severity of the disease. Gradually, people who have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis moves further to the secondary progressive phase.

Knowing what’s coming will make it easier for you to plan accordingly. Shutterstock

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

After suffering the deadly consequences of relapsing-remitting for months or years, multiple sclerosis moves on to its next phase, which is called secondary progressive. In this phase, the symptoms remain steady without any relapsing attacks. This change of phase in multiple sclerosis happens between 10 to 20 years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The reason behind the phase shifting is quite unclear, but scientists have managed to find some links between the shift:-

  • It happens to people who are not able to recover entirely from the relapses.
  • The nerve damage process tends to change.
  • The age of the person also determines the speed of transformation. The older the person, the shorter the time of change.
  • In secondary progression, things started to get worse, and the disease becomes tough to treat. With every passing day, symptoms get a severe turn. Generally, it differs from person to person.
PPMS is when things start to get serious. Shutterstock

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Once the secondary progressive phase is over, the disease takes a deadly turn and enter the primary progressive multiple sclerosis. There are no specific symptoms to be recognized, and there is only scant little chance of reviving from the condition. All the popular multiple sclerosis treatment doesn’t work in this phase as the body starts to deny the procedure in advance. About 10% of all multiple sclerosis patients enter this terminal phase.

A Few Facts About The Phases of Multiple Sclerosis:

  • Primary progressive multiple sclerosis is usually diagnosed at an older age, generally ranging from 40-50 years.
  • The third phase of multiple sclerosis can be witnessed equally in both men and women. But when it comes to the other two levels, women generally outnumber men in 3:1.
  • Unlike relapsing-remitting MS, primary progression often results in total disability.
Life can be difficult and isolating but remember you have friends and family who are willing to help. Shutterstock

What are the Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis?

Every disease has its own risk factors that eventually increase its chances. Though multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that develops when your myelin becomes your enemy, there are certain risk factors that together or alone give rise to this severe ailment. To safeguard your body from the wraths of this disease, it is vital to remain acquainted with the possible risk factors that are associated with multiple sclerosis. Read the below risk factors and assess whether your well being is in the radar of multiple sclerosis:

  • Age: Multiple sclerosis can happen to anyone at any age. Though there’s no specific age group, studies have proven that people between the age of 16 and 55 are primarily affected by multiple sclerosis. Hence it is vital to take care of your health and stay vigilant about the possible symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
  • Gender: Women are more prone to relapsing-remitting MS than men. Chances of women developing MS are almost three times more than men.
  • Family History: Genes are also one of the major risk factors of catching MS. If any of your parent or sibling has MS then, then your chances of getting MS slightly increases.
  • Infections: As mentioned earlier, viral infections are one of the major causes of MS, so if you have been infected by any infection lately, it’s better to diagnose yourself to detect MS.
  • Race: Race of people is one of the significant factors of risk. People who are descendants of Northern European countries are more likely to develop MS. Asians, Africans, or Native Americans, on the other hand, are at lower risks.
  • Climate: Countries with a temperate climate are closer to MS that majorly includes Canada, the North American states, New Zealand, southeastern Australia, and Europe.
  • Autoimmune Disease: If you already have an autoimmune disease such as type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, then you are more vulnerable to MS.
  • Smoking: Steer clear from the habit of excessive smoking if you don’t want to develop MS. Chain smokers tend to witness the early symptoms of MS, which takes a dangerous turn when ignored.
If you’re getting increasingly tired as the days pass, see a doctor immediately. Shutterstock

Early Signs or Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the common signs that show you might have MS. Unlike general fatigue, MS fatigue will make you extremely tired and exhausted. It will make you incapable of doing the most straightforward task, as well. This fatigue issue will get tougher each day and will witness difficulties in performing your daily routine tasks. If you are experiencing MS, your fatigue level will gradually rise each day. Hence, it is essential never to ignore your fatigue issue and consult your doctor to conduct a thorough diagnosis. Never remain ignorant of such common early signs of MS.

You can’t see as clearly as you used to. Shutterstock

Vision Problems

As mentioned earlier, vision problems are the most common symptoms your body would show if you have been developing MS lately. When the connection between your brain and the body is slowed down, it is quite natural to encounter vision issues. In the worst cases, your optic nerves can be damaged. 

The forms of visual problems mainly include temporary loss of vision, color blindness, constant eye pain, flashes of light, and double vision. Generally, one particular eye is affected by MS, but the worst-case scenario can damage both of your eyes. Please don’t ignore your common vision problem and take them lightly. Diagnose your disease at the earliest to get the right treatment.

Fidgeting excessively is not normal. Shutterstock

Abnormal Sensations

If you have been witnessing abnormal activities in your body and mind, then you might pay attention to the risk of catching. Abnormal sensations are the most common symptoms of MS that you can detect in yourself. From tingling sensations to uncontrollable fidgeting, anything and possibly everything that feels abnormal to you can be counted in the category of this symptom.  

These abnormal sensations tend to last for days and weeks, so you must be extremely attentive and report to your doctor earlier. Get yourself adequately diagnosed and make sure if you are suffering from MS or not. Please don’t take your body signs too lightly that you have to pay for it with your health.

Feeling like pins and needs in your hands and feet. Shutterstock

Tingling and Numbness

Multiple sclerosis directly affects the nervous system, so there are chances that you might feel tingling sensation and numbness as a part of its symptoms. The nerves in the brain and spinal cord are largely affected by MS, which results in faulty signals traveling across the body. 

Such conflicting signals often cause tingling and numbness of body parts. It is essential to pay attention to these sensations and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Tingling and numbness are some of the common symptoms of MS that are easily overlooked by many. The numbness and tingling generally occur in arms, legs, fingers, and face. 

Pay attention to your pain, especially if it lasts a long time. Shutterstock

Pain and Spasms

As a part of multiple sclerosis, you might go through chronic pain and uncertain muscle spasms. National MS Society also found that half of the people suffering from MS witnessed chronic pain for a lifetime. Muscle stiffness or spasms are the most common symptoms of MS that must not be ignored. If you have multiple sclerosis, you might witness unexplained muscle and joint pain. 

If the pain continues for days and weeks, consult your doctor immediately and diagnose whether your body is in the wraiths of MS or not. Never ignore such severe signs of MS. Pay attention to your joint pains and don’t try to conceal it with regular diclofenac.

It can be challenging to get through the day without falling over. Shutterstock

Dizziness

Do you have a balance problem? Are fainting regularly and feeling dizzy all through the day? If yes, then you must start worrying about MS. Dizziness and balance problems can be the extreme symptoms of multiple sclerosis, leaving your brain and body unconnected. This generally happens when your mind cannot send the proper signal to your body, and in the absence of such appropriate signs, your body tends to react adversely. 

People suffering from MS generally feel lightheaded the majority of the time. If you have been encountering such a dizziness situation, then you must ignore it and seek medical attention soon.

This is more than just incontinence that comes with aging. Shutterstock

Bladder And Bowel Dysfunction

Around 80% of people with MS showcase bladder and bowel dysfunction as the primary symptom. Frequent urination, inability to hold urine, and a strong urge to pee are the most common signs of bladder dysfunction. While your urination problem can be tamed, there are much worse symptoms of MS that are uncontrollable. 

Bowel dysfunction is also a major symptom of MS. Constipation, diarrhea, and loss of bowel control are some of the bowel problems you might witness as the early signs of bowel dysfunction. If you have been fighting with any of these dysfunctions, then waste no time and immediately visit your doctor and get yourself diagnosed and avail the right treatment before it gets too late. 

It can be rough for both you and your partner. Shutterstock

Sexual Dysfunction

Are you not able to enjoy your sexual life? Are arousals lower or barely existing? Before blaming yourself, you must consult a doctor, and multiple sclerosis can also impact your sex life as well. People who suffer from MS are more likely to witness sexual dysfunction that includes problems during sexual intercourse, erectile dysfunction, problems in arousal. 

People generally ignore these signs due to embarrassment, but being ignorant towards these issues will only make things worse for your health. Pay attention to your sexual life, and if you witness any uncertain changes, then you must consult a doctor immediately. 

You may have a hard time doing simple tasks. Shutterstock

Mobility Issues

When MS starts to take over your body and slows down the communication between your brain and body, many functions will be disrupted. Difficulty in walking, moving, or standing properly can be counted amongst the early signs of MS in your body. Clumsiness, difficulty in balancing, dizziness, vertigo, shaking of limbs are some of the common mobility problems that can be witnessed. 

MS directly attacks your nerves, cells, and muscles, making them weaker and less flexible. If you have MS, you won’t be able to even move from one place to another without having any difficulty. Do not ignore such mobility issues as it might be the signs of multiple sclerosis. Get medical attention as soon as possible so that things can be under control.  

It can be almost impossible to get through the simplest of tasks. Shutterstock

Cognitive Problems

It is quite evident that if MS has attacked your body, it will damage your cognitive thinking and your ability to perceive things. There are plenty of cognitive problems that can be witnessed if you are suffering from MS, and you don’t realize that. Issues in learning new things and keeping them in mind, inability to complete tasks correctly, short attention span, the question in understanding and processing visual information are some of the significant cognitive problems that you must be attentive to. 

Difficulty in planning and problem solving are the early signs of MS. Generally, MS patients report that they find it challenging to execute things the way they wanted; it’s like their mind says something, and the body performs something different. If you are also encountering such issues, then it’s high time you get a doctor’s assistance to safeguard your brain and body from MS.

Mood swings are a serious symptom of MS. Shutterstock

Emotional Imbalance

Mood swings are frequent but have been in an emotionally unstable state for quite a long time? If yes, you need to worry about your mental health. MS damages the nervous system and makes your mind vulnerable to emotions. From irritability, anxiousness, mood swings to temperament, and sadness, every irrational emotion can be deemed as the symptoms of MS. 

These emotional instabilities also include uncontrollable laughs and cry. In severe cases, people often get into depression due to these emotional disorders. Stress and anxiety can get to another level if these emotional disorders prevail for a long time. If you are excessively emotional for any uncertain and unexplainable thing, then you must consult your doctor and get yourself diagnosed at the earliest. 

Steroids can reduce the pain from MS flareups that would otherwise put you down for the day. Shutterstock

The Best Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

IV Steroids

If you have been struggling with multiple sclerosis, then steroids can treat your condition and give quick results as well. Steroids are generally used to tame down the MS flares that are caused by nerve inflammation when the myelin is exposed. IV steroids help in reducing the swelling and creating a temporary protective shield on your nerves. 

Different forms of steroids are used to treat MS flares. You must consult your doctor before taking any particular steroid as they often have side effects if taken without prescription. When you are on IV steroids, it takes around 4-6 months to recover from the MS flares. 

Reducing inflammation improves movement and eases the pain. Shutterstock

Glucocorticoids

Yet another effective medicine to treat the inflammation is glucocorticoids. It also helps in strengthening your immune system and keeping it safe from other autoimmune diseases. They help make your swelling lesser painful. Unlike IV steroids, glucocorticoids don’t create a protective shield, and it just works as a medicine to lessen the pain and discomfort. 

Glucocorticoids can be used to treat your bowel dysfunction, allergies, muscle pain resulting from MS. There are different types of glucocorticoids available in the market, take an appropriate prescription from your doctor before buying any. 

Deep Brain Stimulation may seem invasive, but has produced improvements. Shutterstock

Deep Brain Stimulation

It is an old surgery technique that is used to treat multiple sclerosis, essential tremor, and Parkinson’s disease. This surgery technique was widely famous during the 1960s, wherein a small section in the deep brain is removed called thalamus to treat the issue. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is still prevailing in the medical industry, and with the advancing technology, the surgery success ratio has also been improved. 

DBS is suggested to those patients who are the extreme case of multiple sclerosis. Though this surgery carries significant and unavoidable risks, the result of this surgery can bring a substantial difference in the condition of the person. It is also useful in treating paralysis, loss of speech, and sight.

Cleaning the blood can produce dramatic results. Shutterstock

Plasmapheresis

This compound word is a technique to clean blood, plasma exchange, or plasmapheresis work just like kidney dialysis. In this treatment, plasma of the blood is replaced with a plasma substitute of a donor. Plasmapheresis is considered a sufficient remedy to treat sudden attacks, relapses, and MS flares. Just like any other treatment, plasmapheresis has some risk factors; in the majority of cases, this treatment brings positive changes in the condition of the MS patient. 

Hence, if your multiple sclerosis situation has started getting worse and you are witnessing some major health problems related to it, then you must start thinking about plasmapheresis. Consult your doctor about whether your health condition is suitable to conduct plasmapheresis or not. 

Your joints need all the help they can get. Shutterstock

Physical Therapy

It is quite evident that your MS condition can affect both your mental and physical health. If you are looking for the most organic and effective way to treat your multiple sclerosis, then opting for physical therapy. As mentioned above in the symptoms, balance issues and mobility problems are common in multiple sclerosis patients, and physical therapy is the right way to treat such symptoms. You must consult a physical therapist after being diagnosed with MS, and they will assist you in beginning a therapy addressing your specific physical issue. 

There are several hospitals as well that provide in-house physical therapists to assist the multiple sclerosis patients. Your therapist will thoroughly analyze your issue and suggest the ideal exercise regime which you need to follow to get better results. Generally, the exercises include stretching to ease muscle spasms, bending, and straightening to strengthen your arms and legs. Stay true to your exercise regime and fight off multiple sclerosis in the most organic way. 

Botox is great for more than just wrinkles. Shutterstock

Botulinum Toxin

You must have heard this medicine name that is used to treat wrinkles, and You would be surprised to know how active botulinum toxin can be for multiple sclerosis. Your muscles and tissues tend to loosen up in MS that leads to uncontrollable movements and fidgeting of arms and legs. Botulinum toxin is used to relax your muscles. 

Generally, your brain sends signals to your body and commands it to act in a certain way, but when you are suffering from MS, these functions lose its synchronization. That’s when botulinum toxin starts its work. It helps in easing out your nervous system and creating a brand-new channel for transferring messages between brain and body. It would be best if you got a doctor’s prescription before consuming botulinum toxin. 

Keep your mind busy, and your heart open. Shutterstock

Occupational Therapy

As the name suggests, this is a social therapy that is used to make your mental health stable during multiple sclerosis. It is quite evident that MS tends to take a toll on your mental health that often becomes uncontrollable, making you socially awkward. Being disconnected from society can drive you towards depression and anxiety. Hence, occupational therapy works in getting you back to life. It generally includes activity and tasks that involve social interactions, analytical thinking, and fun games that will keep you engrossed and engaged. 

The principal aim of occupational therapy is to make you productive at home/work/school and giving you a new meaning to living life and enjoy your interests. MS can severely damage your mental health, and occupational therapy helps in taking care of your mental health. Furthermore, occupational therapies also include skills that can teach you dressing, bathing, grooming, and eating on your own that often MS restrict you from doing.

Take care of yourself in other ways. Shutterstock

Alternative and Complementary Therapy

By now, you must have understood that though MS is a deadly disease, there are plenty of ways through which a person can get back to a healthy life. Apart from all these therapies and medications, there are many alternative and complementary therapies you can think of on your own to treat your multiple sclerosis. 

For instance, finding new ways to relax your mind, body, and soul via yoga, meditation, fitness program. Check with your doctor and seek advice on how to work on your physical and mental being in the most natural ways. Staying connected to nature is also one of the best ways to treat any deadly ailment.

Keep a careful eye on your health and symptoms. Shutterstock

Stay Vigilant And Act Immediate To Ward Off Multiple Sclerosis

There’s no doubt in asserting that multiple sclerosis is a deadly disease where your own immune system becomes your enemy and damages your nervous system. Myelin, a protective fat coating over the nerve is exposed when your immune system is weakened, resulting in disruption of the connectivity between the brain and the body.  

MS has three different phases that generally determines the severity of the disease. In order to keep your brain and body safe from this severe autoimmune disease, it is essential to pay heed to the early signs that include numbness, vision issues, and bowel problems. Get the appropriate treatment before things get worse.

The above mentioned was the complete guide regarding multiple sclerosis that accommodated the information regarding its causes, risks, symptoms, and adequate treatments. Make sure you are not in captivity of this deadly disease and get yourself diagnosed as soon as possible if you have been witnessing any possible MS symptoms lately.

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