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What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

    Multiple sclerosis or MS is a disease that causes multiple scars on nerves in your brain and spinal cord. These scars keep the nerves from working properly.

    What causes MS?

    Doctors don't know what causes MS, but most doctors believe that your immune system attacks your body's own tissues as if they don't belong to you. This is called an autoimmune reaction. In MS, the immune system attacks and damages nerves in your brain and spinal cord.

    What are the symptoms of MS?

    Because MS attacks different nerves, the symptoms can vary from person to person. Even the pattern of how symptoms come and go can differ between people. Usually, MS symptoms appear suddenly and then go away. As time goes on, whatever your symptom pattern is, MS tends to slowly get worse.

    Common early symptoms of MS include tingling or numbness in parts of your arms, legs, chest, back, or face; weakness, clumsiness, or stiffness in your arms or legs; blind spots; blurry vision; or pain when moving one eye.

    Other early symptoms include double vision and sudden burning or electric shock-like pains down your back, legs, or arm that may come on their own when something touches you or when you bend your neck.

    Later symptoms of MS may include shaky, irregular movements; being unable to move a part or all of your body; painful muscle cramps and muscle weakness; balance and walking difficulty; feeling tired and weak; slow, slurred speech; depression or mood swings; difficulty thinking, remembering things, paying attention, or making decisions; dizziness; and problems controlling urination or bowel movements.

    How can doctors tell if I have MS?

    It can be hard to tell if you have MS. Doctors diagnose MS based on your symptoms and usually with MRI of the brain and spinal cord and sometimes a spinal tap.

    How do doctors treat MS?

    To help symptom flares, doctors may try a blood treatment called plasma exchange. They may use various medicines to help keep your immune system from attacking your nerves or may try to ease your specific symptoms such as muscle tightness, tingling sensations, tiredness, or depression.

    How do I make life easier with MS?

    You can make life with MS easier and help prevent disability by staying active, doing physical therapy, walking on your own for as long as possible, avoiding heat (such as taking hot baths or showers), not smoking, and taking vitamin D supplements.

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