Multiple Sclerosis And The Immune System How Are They Connected

June 10, 2021
Multiple Sclerosis And the Immune System

Multiple Sclerosis is a potentially incapacitating disease of the spinal cord (central nervous system)and brain. In this condition, a person’s immune system attacks the myelin (a protective sheath) that covers the nerve fibers. This leads to communication issues between your brain and other organs of your body. This can eventually lead to the deterioration of permanent damage to the nerves. This article discusses what Multiple Sclerosis is and how it impacts the immune system.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms often associated with Multiple Sclerosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking due to numbness in your feet or legs
  • Balancing difficulties
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulties with vision
  • Various vision problems ranging from optic neuritis to total blindness
  • Speech issues such as slurred speech, scanning speech, etc.
  • Acute or chronic pain
  • Cognitive issues involving memory, concentration, and word-finding
  • Sleep problems
  • Tremors
  • Bladder control problems.
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

The precise cause of Multiple Sclerosis is still unidentified. It is unclear why this condition develops in some individuals and not others. Several kinds of research conducted in this area found a combination of genetics and environmental factors to be responsible. However, certain risk factors like low vitamin D levels, certain infections, autoimmune diseases, smoking, etc., can make people more vulnerable to Multiple Sclerosis. Also, women have a 200% to 300% more chance of getting the disease than men.

Complications Associated with Multiple Sclerosis

Numerous complications are associated with Multiple Sclerosis. Some of them are…

  • Muscle spasms or stiffness
  • Paralysis, usually in the legs
  • Problems with bowel, bladder, or sexual function
  • Mental changes, such as mood swings and forgetfulness
  • Epilepsy
  • Depression

Stages of Multiple Sclerosis

In general, Multiple Sclerosisbecomes more debilitating and severe over time. People with the most common form of Multiple Sclerosis called Relapsing RemittingMultiple Sclerosis or RRMS usually find their symptoms worsen with each attack.

Usually, after having RRMS, most people will advance into secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis or SPMS. In this condition, the symptoms worsen with time, and they may stop experiencing remissions or relapses.

As the disease progresses further, the patient reaches end-stage Multiple Sclerosis. They start to experience more severe symptoms such as loss of mobility and severe cognitive problems leading to loss of physical independence.

The Immune System and Multiple Sclerosis: How Are They Linked?

In a healthy person, nerve fibers have a protective covering known as myelin that insulates the nerve fibers from damage. In people with Multiple Sclerosis, their immune system erroneously identifies the myelin as a foreign body and sends disease-fighting cells into the central nervous system to destroy myelin. This happens because immune system cells bypass the blood-brain barrier (BBB). BBB is a layer of cells that prevents destructive cells and other substances in the blood from entering the brain and the central nervous system. Damaged myelin can generally be restored, especially during the early stages of the disease, by Oligodendrocytes, which are cells responsible for creating and maintaining myelin. However, gradually oligodendrocytes may be unable to restore the damaged myelin.

The Effects of Multiple Sclerosis on Your Body

Multiple Sclerosis causes problems throughout the body of the patient. It can cause issues like:

  • Brain interruptions
  • Emotional changes,
  • Vision problems
  • Vocal changes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Amplified cardiovascular risk
  • Hand-eye coordination problems
  • Brittle bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weak bladder control
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Balancing issues
  • Weakened immune system

If you are looking for expert multiple sclerosis treatment, please call us at 843-572-1600 or schedule an appointment with our expert doctors today.

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