Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which your immune system attacks myelin, the covering that protects your nerves. This damage to the myelin disrupts information flow both within your brain and between your brain and the rest of your body. These nerves deteriorate, which is an irreversible condition. MS is a degenerative disease, meaning the symptoms will get progressively worse over time.
What are the signs of MS? People with multiple sclerosis usually have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40. Signs and symptoms vary depending on the extent of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some MS symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of balance
- Poor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Extreme fatigue
- Problems with memory and concentration
What’s a flare up? You can go days or years without major changes in your symptoms and then suddenly experience a “flare up,” or relapse. MS is active again when you develop new MS symptoms, a regular problem gets worse, or your symptoms last 24 hours or longer.
What causes MS? The cause of MS is currently unknown, but childhood infections and genetics are believed to play a role.
There’s no cure, but there are ways to control your symptoms.
Since prolonged over-exertion and stress may be contributing factors to flare ups, exercise, regular stretching, and relaxation may help you manage MS symptoms. Talk to your primary physician or neurologist, who may recommend treatments such as physical therapy, muscle relaxants, or medications to reduce fatigue or other symptoms.