Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Monday, October 27, 2014

Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body's immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

"Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin -- the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers -- as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.

"The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factor. People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe." (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2014).

The cause of Multiple Sclerosis is unknown. Currently, 24 million people in the United States have Multiple Sclerosis. Causes of Multiple Sclerosis include:

Fatigue: This can inter with one's ability to function at home and/or work. One may feel fatigue after getting a full night's rest and/or may occur in the early morning.

Numbness or tingling: Numbness of the face, body or extremities (arms and legs) is one of the most common symptoms of MS.

Weakness: Weakness may occur in any part of the body.

Vision Problems: The visual symptoms that occur in MS may be the result of optic neuritis -- inflammation of the optic nerve -- or lesions (damaged areas) along the nerve pathways that control eye movements and visual coordination. Optic neuritis may result in blurring or graying of vision, or blindness in one eye. A dark spot may occur in the center of the visual field. (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2014).

Spasticity: Muscles stiffness, and/or involuntary muscle spasms.

This article includes a brief listing of symptoms and information of Multiple Sclerosis. Visit our homepage at or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee.

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