WebMD explains Multiple Sclerosis as a long-lasting disease that can effect the brain and/or spinal cord, and the optic nerve. Because MS affects these areas of the central nervous system, it could cause issues with vision, balance, muscle control and other various body functions.
Effects of this disease are not the same for everyone. Some people can go most of their lives with very few issues, others need some kind of treatment plan and still others progress with symptoms very rapidly.
MS attacks the myelin sheath.
Neurons are the structures in the nervous system that allow us to think, see, hear, speak, feel, eliminate and move. Each neuron is made up of a cell body and an axon (the extension of the cell body that carries messages). Most of the axons in the central nervous system are wrapped in myelin, a substance rich in lipids (fatty substances) and proteins. Like the coating around an electrical wire, myelin insulates and protects the axon and helps speed nerve transmission.
Myelin is present in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS); however only the central nervous system is affected by MS. CNS myelin is produced by special cells called oligodendrocytes. PNS myelin is produced by Schwann cells. The two types of myelin are chemically different, but they both perform the same function — to promote efficient transmission of a nerve impulse along the axon. – National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The damage means your brain can’t send signals through your body correctly. Your nerves also don’t work as they should to help you move and feel. As a result, you may have symptoms like:
- Trouble walking
- Feeling tired
- Muscle weakness or spasms
- Blurred or double vision
- Numbness and tingling
- Sexual problems
- Poor bladder or bowel control
- Problems focusing or remembering
The first symptoms often start between ages 20 and 40. Most people with MS have attacks, also called relapses, when the condition gets noticeably worse. They’re usually followed by times of recovery when symptoms improve. For other people, the disease continues to get worse over time.
In recent years, scientists have found many new treatments that can often help prevent relapses and slow the disease’s effects.
Below you can read the inspiring stories of three individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Each one an individual, each one with their own personal MS story.
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