Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting the central nervous system (CNS) -the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. It can lead to the gradual deterioration in muscle strength and control, balance, coordination, vision, thinking, learning and sensation. The immune system abnormally targets myelin, the protective sheath surrounding and insulating the nerve fibres. The damaged myelin causes the formation of a scar tissue-called sclerosis. The damage to the myelin sheath or nerve fibre interrupts the nerve impulses to and from the brain and spinal cord, resulting in communication problems and subsequent symptoms.
Causes, treatment and prevention
The exact cause of the disease is not known but it is believed to be triggered in genetically susceptible individuals in combination with environmental and other factors. There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments and preventions can boost speedy recovery from relapses and attacks, modify the disease course and manage symptoms. Prevention of ms may include dietary changes, nutritional supplements, exercising, lifestyle changes and modifying the environment.
Research suggests that vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin may play an important role in prevention of ms. It has been found that areas close to the equator register lowest incidences of multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D boosts the immunity and helps the body in calcium absorption. So, including Vitamin D supplements and eating a well balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, cereals, legumes, fish, poultry, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products, may lower the risk of ms or reduce the symptoms. Since, fatigue is the most common symptom, make sure to get enough sleep and rest.
It is a good idea to modify your home and surroundings to keep it easy and safe to move around. Smoking and heavy consumption of alcohol should be restricted. Being overweight significantly increases the risks of developing MS. An active lifestyle and exercising can help you overcome excess weight and be stress-free. Avoid exposure to heat. Increased body temperature can worsen the symptoms. Many people use a combination of alternative or complementary therapies to manage the symptoms, such as depression, fatigue and muscle pain. Acupuncture, yoga, tai-chi, relaxation techniques, herbal remedies, meditation and massage are few alternative treatments to cope with the symptoms of the disease.
Make all possible efforts to preserve your mental and physical well-being. Proper diet, wise use of energy, adequate rest, and emotional and practical support from the family, friends, support groups and doctor can be quite helpful in managing the chronic illness. You can talk to your doctor about various physical and occupational therapies to help you manage at home and work. Active research is underway to identify and develop newer and better disease-modifying medicines, and combination therapies.