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World Multiple Sclerosis Day 2021: Know The Symptoms Of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease which affects the central nervous system, spinal cord and optic nerves.

World Multiple Sclerosis Day 2021: Know The Symptoms Of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a long-lasting disease that affects your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves

In medical terms, Multiple Sclerosis is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord. The nerve cells or neurons consists of myelin which is the protective sheath that surrounds the axons of neurons. These allow them to send electrical impulses swiftly. This myelin is produced by oligodendrocytes which are a group of cells that support neurons. In multiple sclerosis, demyelination happens when the immune system inappropriately attacks and destroys myelin. It interrupts the communication between neurons, ultimately leading to all sorts of sensory, motor, and cognitive problems.

Multiple sclerosis is a type IV hypersensitivity reaction or cell indicated hypersensitivity. This means that myelin-specific T cells like IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and interferon-gamma together dilate the blood vessels. It allows more immune cells to get in, as well as directly cause damage to the oligodendrocytes.

Symptoms of MS

Though research in this field of study is yet to discover the real cause for Multiple Sclerosis, some symptoms are associated with it. They include:

Muscle weakness

Lhermitte's sign: a shock-like sensation when the person moves the neck

Vision problems


Bladder problems


Dizziness and Vertigo

Sexual Dysfunctions

In multiple sclerosis, these immune attacks typically happen in bouts. An autoimmune attack on the oligodendrocytes might happen, and then regulatory T cells will come into the inhibitor leading to a reduction in the inflammation. Over time, the oligodendrocytes die off, and the remyelination stops. Also, the damage becomes irreversible with the loss of axons.

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown but is linked to both genetic and environmental factors. Genetic risk factors include having genes that encode a specific type of immune molecule called HLA-DR2. It is used to identify and bind foreign molecules. There is a slight preponderance in women in most of the researches.

Environmental risk factors might include infections as well as vitamin D deficiency. It might explain why the rates of multiple sclerosis are higher at the northern and southern poles. Genetic and environmental influences might lead to the body not killing off immune cells that target myelin.

(Dr. Nithin Kumar N, Consultant - Neurology, Fortis Hospitals, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru)

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