Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune neurological disease that affects the human central nervous system (CNS). It is a chronic progressive disease that is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, but can affect children and the elderly. The disease affects brain tissue and the white matter of the spinal cord, destroying myelin (the sheath that surrounds nerve fibers) and causing nerve damage.
The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune factors . There is no cure for this disease, but there are effective treatments that slow the progression of symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life. One plausible explanation is that people were exposed in early childhood to a virus (probably a herpes virus or retrovirus) or some unknown substance that stimulates the immune system to attack the body’s tissues ( an autoimmune reaction ). An autoimmune reaction causes inflammation that destroys the myelin sheath and underlying nerve fibers.
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis depend on which areas of the central nervous system are affected. The most common symptoms are muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, difficulty speaking or walking, loss of balance, vision and hearing problems, sleep and bowel control problems . The disease can present as acute symptoms followed by periods of remission or as relapsing remissions in which symptoms gradually worsen over time. As multiple sclerosis progresses, movements can become jerky, unsteady, and ineffective. Partial or complete paralysis can occur. Weakness and spasms can interfere with walking, even with a walker or other assistive devices.
The diagnosis of MS is based on a clinical examination of the patient, using magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) to evaluate symptoms and lesions in the brain and spinal cord and to measure how fast myelin conducts electricity through nerves ( evoked potential test ). Diagnosing MS can often be difficult because symptoms can resemble those of other neurological disorders.
Treatment of multiple sclerosis relies heavily on the use of immunomodulatory and immunosuppressant drugs that seek to limit the immune system’s inflammatory response to central nervous system cells. The drug can be administered orally or intramuscularly or subcutaneously . In addition, there are supportive treatments, such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, which help people manage the symptoms of the disease and maintain independence in everyday life.
The prognosis for multiple sclerosis depends on the individual characteristics of the patient and the form of the disease . In general, the disease is not fatal, but causes progressive disability over time. Many people with multiple sclerosis can lead relatively normal lives, but there are some limitations to their daily activities. Others need help with basic tasks like washing and dressing. The patient’s quality of life also depends on social and economic circumstances, support from family and friends, and opportunities for work and leisure. Most people with multiple sclerosis alternate between periods of relatively good health (remissions) and periods of worsening symptoms (relapses or relapses). Recurrences can be mild or disabling. Return to remission is good but usually incomplete. As a result, multiple sclerosis slowly gets worse over time.
About 3,000 new cases of multiple sclerosis are diagnosed in Italy every year. The disease primarily affects women in a 3:1 ratio. Furthermore, the disease has a high regional prevalence, with a higher prevalence in high latitudes. Despite its epidemiological relevance, multiple sclerosis is still a poorly understood disease, and often so is society. Many patients experience difficulties in daily life due to ignorance or lack of social support.
In conclusion, multiple sclerosis is a chronic progressive neurological disease affecting the human central nervous system.