Multiple Sclerosis In The Female Population

1495 words - 6 pages

Research shows that nearly four-hundred thousand people in the United States are living with multiple sclerosis today. It is also estimated that approximately two and half million people are living with the disease worldwide. Multiple sclerosis is believed to be an autoimmune disease that affects both the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous system. The name multiple sclerosis refers to the scars or lesions that are present in the brain and spinal cord seen on an MRI. An autoimmune disorder is where a person’s immune system mistakes its own white blood cells as invaders and begins to attack itself damaging healthy body tissue. In these types of disorders, the immune system cannot tell the difference between healthy cells and antigens, which are foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Multiple sclerosis, also known simply as MS, is one of the most common autoimmune disorders. It is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of twenty and forty and is far more common in women than men. MS is mainly caused by damage to person’s myelin sheath, which is described as an insulating envelope that covers a nerve cell. This leads to demyelination which “impairs the conduction of signals in the affected nerves, causing impairment in sensation, movement, cognition, or other functions depending on which nerves are involved”. (Wikipedia) Because of the damage it does to the nerve cells, nerve signals can either slow down or stop completely. Inflammation, or the body’s reaction to infection, is what causes this nerve damage to happen. Multiple sclerosis is most commonly seen in the brain, optic nerve and spinal cord and often leads to physical and cognitive disability. Doctors do not know exactly what causes multiple sclerosis, but theories state that it could be due to a virus or gene flaw. Everyone is different when it comes to multiple sclerosis. Symptoms vary and they can come and go, which is known as remitting or relapse and remissions. These attacks can last for a few hours, days, weeks and even months. Attacks can consist of muscle spasms, difficultly with coordination, tingling and numbness of the arms and legs, depression, urination and bowel problems, weakness, vision problems, pain, and fatigue which is the most common symptom. “Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances”. (Wikipedia) Unfortunately and as sad as it is, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Even though there is no cure, there are ways to decrease the progression of the disease that can help a person to maintain a normal life. Medication and steroids are used to prevent new attacks, slowing the progression of disability and attempt to function normally after an attack. With these treatments, people are said to function normally with slight disability for as long as twenty years or more.
“Although multiple sclerosis (MS) affects both women and men, women are more susceptible to MS...

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