The Latest News In Combating Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the body actually attacks itself. In the case of MS, the myelin sheaths that surround and protect the nerves are affected. The disease is not only chronic but uniquely exasperating. Some patients have a mild form of the disease that doesn’t progress or progresses slowly. For other patients, the disease progresses quickly and sometimes fatally.
Signs of Multiple Sclerosis
Early warning signs and symptoms of MS include vision problems that may be vague at first, such as blurry or double vision. The patient may have problems with their balance and experience vague numbness or tingling around the body. Later symptoms include difficulty speaking, trembling, incontinence and wild mood swings. For some patients, these symptoms go into remissions that can last for years.
MS most often strikes young or middle-aged adults. Women are more susceptible, as are white people and people who have a family history of the disease. Some medical experts believe that viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus makes a person more vulnerable to MS. People who already suffer from another autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes are also more at risk for MS.
Types of MS
There are several types of MS. They include:
This type of MS has a steady progression. The patient has flare-ups, but no remissions.
The disease is progressive with brief periods of improvement or plateaus. Though there is no remission in this form of MS, the patient doesn’t suffer flare-ups.
Also called RRMS, this type of MS does not progress, but has flare-ups followed by recovery periods. This is the most common form of MS.
Most people with RRMS transition to secondary-progressive MS. As its name implies, secondary-progressive MS does progress though not quickly. The patient may or may not suffer flare-ups.
MS is rare in children and is difficult to diagnose because it mimics other childhood diseases. Almost all children with MS have the RRMS form, with many more flare-ups than are seen in adults.
Though there is no cure for multiple sclerosis as of 2016, there have been advances in its treatment. These drugs slow down the progression of the disease, affect the immune system or support the functioning of the damaged nerves. MS patients can also seek help from MS support groups or their physician or counselor.
Teriflunomide, or Aubagio was approved by the FDA in 2012 and helps patients whose MS goes into remission and then returns. Dimethyl fumarate, or Tecfidera is for patients with a type of MS that not only goes into remission but when it flares up the symptoms are worse than they were. Tecfidera stops the immune system from attacking the myelin sheath over the nerves and behaves very much like a protective antioxidant.
Dalfampridine, or Ampyra and a drug called anti-LINGO-1 support the functioning of the nerves. Anti-LINGO-1 is thought by some experts to actually help repair the nerves, though some doctors do not think it’s possible for nerves damaged by MS to be repaired. Patients who wear patches that have been dosed with myelin peptides also seem to respond well to this treatment.
There have also been advances in uncovering the genetics that make a person susceptible to multiple sclerosis, though as of 2016 a gene that specifically causes the disorder hasn’t been found. As more and more genetic factors for MS are found, it may be one day possible to treat patients for the disease before they start to develop any of its symptoms.