Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a condition in which an abnormal response by the immune system causes central nervous system damage, leading to a variety of unpredictable symptoms. Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. are living with MS, and while there is no single cause for the disease which has been identified, researchers have some ideas about what could contribute to the condition. Find out more about the symptoms and causes of MS below.
Common MS Symptoms
The symptoms of MS can vary significantly from person to person and may change over the course of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Fatigue, which is experienced by roughly 80% of people with MS
- Numbness or tingling in the face, body, or extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Gait challenges
- Spasticity in the muscles
- Vision problems, including poor color contrast
- Bladder and bowel changes
- Cognitive and emotional changes
While less common, some people with MS also experience other symptoms, including tremors, speech problems such as slurring, swallowing and breathing problems, seizures, and hearing loss.
Causes of MS
Multiple Sclerosis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue — specifically, the myelin, which protects the nerves in the brain and spinal column. As this autoimmune effect progresses and the myelin becomes impaired, the nerve fibers are left exposed, which results in disruptions in the messages that travel along nerves.
The root cause of MS has yet to be identified, though experts suspect it is triggered by a number of factors, including an individual’s genetics and environmental factors, among others. There are also some factors which can elevate your risk for developing MS:
- Sex: Women are more than 2-3 times as likely to experience the relapsing-remitting form of MS.
- Age: While MS can develop at any age, it manifests most often around the ages of 20 and 40.
- Genetics: People whose parents or siblings have the condition are more likely to experience it themselves.
- Climate: MS appears more frequently in areas further from the equator, and cases are more prevalent in the northern U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Europe, and southeastern Australia. Geographic location could go hand-in-hand with the fact that low vitamin D levels also appear to increase risk, since areas further from the equator experience less sunlight.
- Race: Caucasian people have the highest risk of developing MS, and especially those who have Northern European ancestry.
- Other diseases: Prior infections, including the Epstein-Barr virus which causes mononucleosis, have been associated with MS. Other autoimmune diseases can also slightly increase risk, including inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, and thyroid disease.
If you have recently been experiencing some of these symptoms, it is best to talk to your practitioner about it. Early diagnosed MS patients may benefit from early treatment options as it may help slow the progression as well as inflammation and nerve damage.
Some patients seek alternative options for managing their symptoms. One specific alternative treatment MS patients are researching is regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy for Multiple Sclerosis. Although not a cure, it provides a potential option for patients to manage their symptoms and help improve their quality of life. If not a fit, there are also other forms of therapy that may help as well. For a complimentary assessment, please contact us for more information.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions. Click here to learn more.