Experts know how multiple sclerosis affects the body and progresses, but the causes of the disease in a lot of aspects remain a mystery. Though researchers attribute the development of multiple sclerosis to a number of known factors, they are still hard at work to unearth the root cause of the condition to be able to find a cure.
What type of disease is multiple sclerosis?
We know that multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the condition turns the body’s immune system against itself and starts to target the myelin present in the spinal cord.
Today, the treatment options available to make living with multiple sclerosis easier and to impede its advancement are highly effective, but there is no clear-cut preventative measure if an individual is at a high risk of developing MS.
Studies show that genetics play a significant role in the development of multiple sclerosis just as in the case of many autoimmune conditions. Furthermore, environmental factors also contribute to a higher risk of multiple sclerosis, especially with a genetic disposition.
For instance, your place of residence can be a risk factor as those who live in areas with proximity to the equator have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis. One reason for this is that low levels of vitamin D are associated with MS.
Infections and viruses can also trigger the development of multiple sclerosis as pathogens and infections often weaken the immune system.
Doctors primarily rely on a patient’s medical history and a neurological test that scans the brain and spinal cord for any irregularities. Your doctor may also need an MRI, which is used to detect scar tissue. The tricky part is that many conditions can result in tissue scarring, so your doctor assesses the result based on your symptoms, medical history, and possibly the results of other tests.
Your doctor may also need to extract some fluid from your spinal cord for further analysis, using a spinal tap or lumbar puncture. You may also get blood tests to eliminate the possibility of other diseases that result in similar signs and symptoms to multiple sclerosis.
There is not one magical test to conclusively diagnose multiple sclerosis, but your doctor’s expertise coupled with an extensive array of tests can quickly determine whether you have MS. In most cases, people with multiple sclerosis show symptoms between the ages of 20 and 50, and their tests confirm spinal or brain damage. Once you have a definitive diagnosis, your treatment will depend on how advanced your case is.
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