Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. It is the most frequently seen demyelinating disease affecting over 2 million people in the world. Multiple sclerosis can affect people of any age but it is commonly seen in young adults, particularly those that are between 20-40 years of age. The disease affects women twice the number times it affects men.
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Multiple sclerosis can affect the quality of life if not properly treated. It can cause emotional or mental challenges. The disease can also affect the optic nerve in a condition known as optic neuritis, which can cause problems with a person’s vision. The progression of the disease depends on how the person affected manages it. When it is properly managed, the prognosis is usually high. It is therefore important to manage the disease properly so that treatment can be efficient and effective.
In this post, you will learn the meaning of multiple sclerosis, the types, causes, symptoms, preventions, and effective natural remedies for multiple sclerosis.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that involves the immune system attacking the myelin sheath ( and the nerve fibers that covers the brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerve. It is a chronic disease that causes the slow down of electrical impulses that transmit information along the nerve cells.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
There are four types of multiple sclerosis. They are:
Clinically Isolated Syndrome
A clinically isolated syndrome is an episode of multiple sclerosis that just happened at one time. It is often seen as the onset of multiple sclerosis. This type of multiple sclerosis may develop into full-blown multiple sclerosis and may not. Episodes of clinically isolated syndrome last for at least 24 hours but stop after a while. It may represent the onset of multiple sclerosis. A clinically isolated syndrome is further divided into two. They are:
A. Monofocal Episode
In monofocal Episode, the symptoms felt are caused by a single lesion on the central nervous system and causes a single symptom.
B. Multifocal Episode
In the multifocal episode, the symptom feels caused by multiple lesions on the central nervous system and causes more than one symptom.
The following are the general symptoms of Clinically Isolated Syndrome Multiple Sclerosis
- Visual problems that include blurry or double vision
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weak muscles
- Tingling sensation
- Urinary incontinence
- Slurred speech
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is a type of multiple sclerosis that causes the re-occurrence of multiple sclerosis (known as relapses) followed by a period of stability, which can be partial or complete recovery (known as remission) from the symptoms felt before another relapse or reoccurrence will happen again. The partial recovery that happens during remission implies that some symptoms remain and become permanent in the affected person. Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is the most common type of multiple sclerosis.
The following are the symptoms of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
- Vision problems such as blurry or double vision
- Balance and Coordination problem
- Pain that feels like an electric shock when you bend the neck
- Muscle spasms
- Inability to think and learn clearly
- Walking difficulty
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis is a type of multiple sclerosis that comes after relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Not everyone that has relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis will eventually have this type of multiple sclerosis. It is commonly seen in people with frequent relapses. The recovery that occurs during the remitting phase of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is mostly absent during secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. When multiple sclerosis gets to this stage, symptoms become worse, and there is an aggregation of disabilities. Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis can further be divided into four. These are:
In the active secondary progression of multiple sclerosis, there is usually a relapse (occurrence of new symptoms) of multiple sclerosis.
When there is a stable secondary progression of multiple sclerosis, there is no relapse and no new symptoms are found.
In active-progressing secondary progression multiple sclerosis, there is usually a relapse that gets intense and worsens over time. It is referred to as active because the immune system is still attacking the myelin sheath surrounding the central nervous system making it become inflamed.
In non-active secondary progression multiple sclerosis, there is no relapse but the symptoms felt are intense and worsen over time.
The following are the symptoms of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
- Vision problems such as blurry and double vision
- Walking difficulty
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Urinary and fecal incontinence
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Primary progressive multiple sclerosis is a type of multiple sclerosis that has progressively intense or worsening symptoms right from the beginning of the symptoms. The neurological function of the affected person is in a critical state. There are no periods of relapses or remission in this type of multiple sclerosis. The progression of the disease is dependent on the individual affected.
The following are the symptoms of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
- Lhermitte sign (electric shock felt when bending the neck that extends to the back and the extremities)
- Walking difficulty
- Balance and coordination problem
- Mood Changes
- Blurry vision
- Sexual dysfunction
- Urinary and Fecal incontinence
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. However, as earlier stated, it is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks itself and destroys the coating that covers and protects the nerve fibers of the central nervous system.
The immune system is responsible for defending the body against foreign bodies that attack the body but in the case of multiple sclerosis, it attacks a useful component that covers the central nervous system and leads to the formation of lesions in this nervous system.
Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis
The following are some of the risk factors for multiple sclerosis:
Those with a family history of multiple sclerosis have a higher risk of developing the disease. This may be due to certain genes that run in such families. It should however be noted that multiple sclerosis cannot be transferred from parents to their offspring. It only increases the offspring’s chances of also developing the condition.
Multiple sclerosis can affect anyone of any age but those between the ages of 20-40 years old have a higher risk of developing the condition.
Those who smoke both actively and passively have a 50% chance of developing multiple sclerosis than those who have never smoked before.
Multiple Sclerosis affects women two or three times as compared as men. So this predisposes women to the condition.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is responsible for reducing the risk of an autoimmune condition. It is also responsible for protecting the nerve fibers in the central nervous system by regulating its development and the way it performs. Therefore, a person with vitamin D deficiency has a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis than those with sufficient vitamin D in the body.
Those with a history of infection particularly the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) have a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis than those that are not infected by the virus. This is because Epstein-Barr Virus is said to be structurally similar to brain proteins. In this case, the immune system trying to fight off the virus can attack these healthy proteins that coat the brain. This leads to multiple sclerosis.
Those with a body mass index of 30 and above have a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis than those with normal body weight.
Other Autoimmune Conditions
The presence of other autoimmune conditions in the body (such as type 1 diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Psoriasis, etc) has a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis than those who don’t have other autoimmune conditions.
Preventions of Multiple Sclerosis
There is no known method of preventing the disease from occurring. However, lifestyle can be modified to reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. The following are the ways by which the risk of developing multiple sclerosis can be reduced.
Due to the toxins that are gotten from smoking, smoking increases the chances of developing multiple sclerosis by 50% more than non-smokers. Smoking increases the rate by which Clinically Isolated Syndrome is converted to full multiple sclerosis. It also increases the rate of developing primary progressive multiple sclerosis straight away as compared to having a remitting phase in between. It is therefore very important to quit smoking totally to reduce the chances of having multiple sclerosis.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Obesity is an abnormal accumulation of excessive fat in the body that poses danger to health. Some studies have linked obesity to increased relapses in multiple sclerosis. It is therefore very important to watch and maintain a healthy weight.
The importance of exercising the body cannot be overemphasized. It helps in the prevention of numerous diseases which includes obesity. Exercise also helps to improve the overall quality of life of an individual.
Get Exposed to Vitamin D
The deficiency of vitamins in the body is one of the strongest risk factors for multiple sclerosis. It is important to get adequate vitamin D which is primarily gotten from exposure to sunlight. This helps to increase the neuroprotective function of vitamin D Ns and reduces the chances of having multiple sclerosis.
6 Effective Natural Remedies For Multiple Sclerosis
It is important to know that multiple sclerosis cannot be reversed. It cannot be cured. However, the progression can be reduced and the symptoms can be effectively managed. The following are some of the natural remedies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis:
Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and joking, should be adopted and be done at a moderate level. It helps multiple sclerosis by increasing muscle strength and helps to tone muscle groups. This in turn helps to reduce fatigue and walking difficulty.
Stretching exercises such as can be used to reduce hypertonia. (i.e muscle tightness and stiffness). This helps to increase flexibility and prevent contractures from setting in.
Strengthening exercises involve the use of resistance to improve muscular strength, endurance, and power. This helps to reduce the risk of falls and protects the joint injury. It also helps to prevent dizziness and keep the body stable. They should be done at a moderate intensity level. Examples of strengthening exercises are: squats, push-ups, bench presses, etc
Kegel contractions help to manage urinary incontinence by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. When you want to urinate, you hold the urine midstream and contract the muscles involved in urination for about 10 seconds before releasing the urine. You can repeat this about 5-10 times on single urination and try it t 3-5times per day. This will ensure that the pelvic muscles are strong enough to avoid leakage of urine.
Ginger helps to relax the muscles and reduce inflammation in the nervous system. This leads to a reduction in joint and muscle pain. This in turn improves multiple sclerosis
Consume Vitamin D
A person who has multiple sclerosis and also has a low amount of vitamin D should ensure that adequate vitamin D is obtained. Sources of vitamin D are Egg yolk, salmon, sardines, canned tuna, cold liver oil, sunlight, etc.
The above natural remedies should reduce and improve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. With these remedies, there is an increase in self-esteem, and depression including mood disorders is reduced. This in turn increases the quality of life and life expectancy of the person diagnosed with the condition. However, if the natural remedies for multiple sclerosis do not improve the symptoms felt, it is important to visit the doctor to make your concerns known.