What causes multiple sclerosis is a question that still baffles many medical and scientific experts. Some of the multiple sclerosis causes that may play a part in the onset of this disease are discussed in the following article. Let us have a short discussion on multiple sclerosis in the following article.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting the central nervous system of the body. This chronic disease affects the cells of the brain and spinal cord. This is a very debilitating condition as it affects the nerves that control important body functions like thinking, seeing, tasting, feeling as well as movement. What causes multiple sclerosis is still unknown. However, it is thought to be an autoimmune disease as the immune system starts attacking the myelin sheath around the nerves. This HealthHearty article will cover information related to what is multiple sclerosis and what causes this disease.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
This chronic disease causes inflammation and destruction of the myelin sheath. The nerve fibers are covered with myelin that acts as an insulation for the nerves. When the myelin cover is destroyed it causes problems with the nerve impulse transmission. Thus, affecting many body functions like muscular control, sensory functions, motor problems as well as psychological effects. The cells of the immune system begin to act strangely and attack the body’s own myelin sheath as an intruder. The repeated attacks cause progressive destruction of the myelin sheath and nerve fiber scarring.
As mentioned earlier, what causes multiple sclerosis is a question with unsolved answer. Various studies are conducted around the world. These studies have pointed out a few possible causes leading to this disease. These causes are covered below:
As this disease is already considered an autoimmune disease, this fact is one of the most probable causes of the multiple sclerosis. The immune system attacks any antigen or foreign cell and removes it from the body. However, if the immune system attacks itself and targets myelin as an antigen, it leads to this disease. As to why the immune system begins to attack its own body cells is still unknown.
Research has found that many viral agents that may lead to myelin sheath destruction. When the immune system is attacking a persistent bacterial or viral infection in the central nervous system, it may start affecting the myelin cells as well. These infectious agents include Epstein-Barr virus, chlamydia, measles, herpes virus, etc.
Scientists and experts have identified that there are a few geographical regions and areas where there is a high risk of people developing MS. Some scientists believe people who live near the equator are exposed to more sunlight. This causes their skin to produce more vitamin D. This increase in vitamin D production may have a role in protecting individuals from MS.
This condition is not thought to be a hereditary disease. However, there are a few factors that make one prone to develop MS, if there is one person in the family suffering from the disease. There are 1 in 1000 chances of developing MS, if no single relative suffers from it. If a grandparent, aunt or uncle suffers from MS, there is 1 in 100 change of a person developing MS. There is a 1 in 40 chance of a person developing MS, if a parent or sibling suffers from the condition. And the risk is even higher, 1 in 4 if there the identical twin develops the condition. As you can see, the genetic predisposition is not so high as to place multiple sclerosis under the list of genetic disease.
From the above causes, one can understand there is no concrete trigger for this disease. Most of the causes are just assumptions, based on which researchers are trying to find an answer.
The early symptoms of multiple sclerosis tend to be associated to the nerves affected of a particular part of the body. These symptoms may come and go. Also, the signs and symptoms may last for a few days to a couple of months. These symptoms include:
- Numbness, tingling, pain, itching, burning sensation of the face
- Visual disturbances like double vision
- Mood swings, depression, difficulty thinking and concentrating, memory loss
- Bowel urgency, bladder ejaculation, impotency
- Respiratory problems, fatigue, sleep disorder, dementia and bipolar syndrome
When it comes to multiple sclerosis treatment, use of corticosteroids and disease modifying therapies are administered to the patient. These therapies help in managing the disease, but there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. There are many studies conducted at present to find the exact cause of the disease. Once the cause is found out, then maybe one can hope for a more definitive and curative treatment for this condition.