For many people, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a frightening disease. Imagine waking up one morning and discovering you are totally blind in one eye. This issue usually resolves itself, but your doctor says it could be MS. Although scientists don’t know what causes multiple sclerosis, there is a growing amount of information on how to live with this medical condition.
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system or CNS. The CNS is the brain, spinal column and optic nerves. With MS the body’s immune system functions abnormally and damages the covering (or sheath) of the nerve fibers. This sheath, made of fatty substances, is a protective layer for the nerves, similar to insulation. The sheath helps the brain to communicate with other parts of the body.
When the sheath is damaged, it forms scar tissue, also known as sclerosis. This scar tissue damages the central nervous system and the brain then has difficulty sending signals or information to the rest of the body. MS is the result of this communication malfunction.
MS is an unpredictable disease with a variety of symptoms that affect every person differently. This stems from the amount of damage to the nerve fibers and the location of these damaged nerves. This is why MS can affect any part of the body, and the symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe.
There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, there are treatments available for