Presumptive Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

There are many debates over the specific causes of multiple sclerosis. However, in the absence of conclusive evidence, medical scientists can only speculate upon the causes and risk factors behind multiple sclerosis and other similar autoimmune diseases. Although certain theories regarding a series of multiple sclerosis specific triggers have been partially confirmed by recent medical studies, doctors need additional data in order to identify the exact set of multiple sclerosis causes.

At present, medical scientists believe that genetic factors play a major role in the occurrence and development of multiple sclerosis. However, the specific genes involved in triggering the disease haven’t yet been identified. It is suspected that multiple sclerosis occurs due to a combination of genetic factors corroborated with a series of environmental factors. The autoimmune response characteristic to multiple sclerosis is also believed to be triggered by prolonged exposure to chemicals (long-term treatments with chemotherapeutic drugs are suspected to facilitate the development of multiple sclerosis) or by past infections.

The genetic theories regarding the occurrence of multiple sclerosis have been recently confirmed by medical investigations. The implication of genetic factors is primarily suggested by the pronounced hereditary character of the disease. Similar to other types of autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis can be easily transmitted from one generation to another. Recent studies in the field have identified the fact that blood relatives of patients with multiple sclerosis have 5 to 30 percent chances of developing the disease as well. While identical twins (sharing many genetic features) of patients with multiple sclerosis present the highest risk of developing the disease over time, the risks of inheriting multiple sclerosis are slightly lower for second and third degree relatives.

Another plausible theory incriminates infectious agents as the main triggers for multiple sclerosis. The implication of certain infectious agents in causing and sustaining the progression of multiple sclerosis may explain why this form of autoimmune disease tends to affect people of all ages and regardless of gender and ethnical provenience. Another reason why infectious agents are considered to have a major implication in multiple sclerosis consists in the similarities between the morphology of myelin and certain groups of infectious viral agents.

Some viral agents are very similar to myelin, the protein that is primarily destroyed in multiple sclerosis. These similarities may be the main reason why the immune system becomes confused and fights against healthy nerve cells covered in myelin. The categories of infectious agents believed to have a role in the development of multiple sclerosis are herpes viruses (HHV-6 – the cause of childhood roseola), Chlamydia Pneumoniae (atypical group of bacteria associated with inflammation of the circulatory system), the Epstein-Barr virus (responsible for causing mononucleosis), measles virus, retroviruses (HIV, HTLV-I, HTLV-II) and polyomavirus.

Other potential causes of multiple sclerosis are physical traumas (injuries at the level of the spinal cord), as well as emotional stress (recent studies have revealed that the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are amplified on the premises of emotional stress).

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Interesting Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. Considering the fact that the disease involves dysfunctions at the level of the nervous system, multiple sclerosis can generate a wide spectrum of symptoms. In the absence of an appropriate medical treatment, multiple sclerosis can aggravate over the years, causing irreversible damage to the entire organism. Multiple sclerosis is mainly manifested through states of pronounced fatigue, body weakness, poorly coordinated movement of the body, poor balance and muscle pain, numbness, weakness or spasms. In later stages of the disease, multiple sclerosis can generate decreased vision, inaccurate and slow perceptions of external stimuli, mental confusion, poor concentration and even short-term memory loss. Another common feature to people who suffer from multiple sclerosis is depression. Statistics indicate that more than 75 percent of people affected by multiple sclerosis also suffer from depression.

As indicated by statistics, there are around 2 million people affected by multiple sclerosis worldwide, and their numbers are continuously rising. In the United States alone, there are around 350.000 reported cases of multiple sclerosis. For some reason, this form of neurological disease mostly affects young people. Multiple sclerosis has the highest prevalence in people with ages between 20 and 40, and the disease is rarely developed by people at more advanced stages of life. Another interesting aspect of multiple sclerosis is that it tends to affect mostly women. Although multiple sclerosis can also be developed by men, the disease is very common in women.

Multiple sclerosis involves an inflammatory process at the level of the nervous system, causing a destruction of myelin, a very important substance that surrounds the nervous cells of the body (neurons). Myelin has a vital role in the transmission of nervous impulses between neurons, establishing connections between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. When myelin is damaged, the transmission of electrical impulses between nervous cells is perturbed, considerably slowing down the body’s response to external stimuli. Destruction of myelin can lead to serious dysfunctions of the nervous system, causing various abnormal neuropsychological manifestations.

Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed upon various criteria. External manifestations of the disease are not sufficient in diagnosing patients with multiple sclerosis. Therefore, the process of diagnosing multiple sclerosis often involves analysis of the nervous cells’ integrity (especially the integrity of the myelin), blood tests and a careful examination of patients’ neurological manifestations.

Once patients are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they are prescribed an appropriate medical treatment. Through the means of medical treatments, specific therapies and lifestyle changes, people who suffer from multiple sclerosis can gradually experience an amelioration of their symptoms. Appropriate diet, healthy sleep patterns and minimal stress conditions greatly contribute to an improvement of the overall condition of people with multiple sclerosis. If multiple sclerosis is timely discovered, the medications and therapies available today can overcome the damage caused at the level of the nervous system and patients with the disease can be successfully recovered from the disease.

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