multiple sclerosis

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Multiple Sclerosis.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease. That means: In multiple sclerosis, the central nervous system is inflamed. The central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord. There the nerve cells process information. The nerve cells transmit stimuli via the nerve tracts. The nerve tracts have a protective covering: the myelin sheath. In this way, the stimuli reach their destination without interference.

In multiple sclerosis, the transmission of stimuli via the nerve tracts no longer works properly. The immune system attacks the myelin sheaths. This is how inflammation develops in different places:

  • in the brain
  • in the spinal cord
  • on the optic nerve

Multiple sclerosis often first appears between the ages of 20 and 40. The disease is not contagious.

Would you like to know more about multiple sclerosis? Then you can also watch this video:

How can you recognize multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis can show different signs in each person. That is why one also says of multiple sclerosis: "The disease with many faces". Signs of multiple sclerosis can include:

  • Sensory disturbances or discomfort in the arms and legs
  • Disorders of the bladder and intestines
  • paralysis occurs
  • vision is disturbed
  • speaking is disturbed
  • the muscles are weak or stiff
  • walking and standing are difficult

Multiple sclerosis has two forms:

1. Shear-shaped course

The disease progresses in phases. Therefore the exact course cannot be foreseen. Relapses mean: the signs appear very suddenly and then may not last long. And the signs suddenly stop or they get weaker. Often there are no clear triggers for a flare-up. But some stresses can favor a flare-up. These include, for example, an infection or stress. A flare-up can take a few days. Sometimes an episode lasts for several weeks. The amount of time between two attacks can vary.

After a flare-up, the signs may go away completely. This is called: complete remission. However, after a flare-up, the signs may linger. This is called: incomplete remission. This occurs especially in the later stages of the disease.

2. Chronic progressive course

The disease can also progress from the beginning without relapses. This is called: primarily progressive course. However, this course is very rare. The secondary progressive course is more common. This means that multiple sclerosis initially occurs in episodes. Later the disease progresses steadily and slowly. Then there may be no more relapses. But the signs become more frequent and the discomfort slowly increases.

What are the causes of multiple sclerosis?

The exact causes of multiple sclerosis are not known. Doctors assume an autoimmune reaction. That means: The disease is directed against your own body. The patient's immune system attacks its own cells. In the autoimmune reaction, the covering around the nerve tracts is damaged. And the nerve tracts themselves are damaged. Therefore, the stimuli can be passed on more poorly. Or the stimuli don't even reach their destination. The shell around the nerve tract is responsible for the transmission of stimuli.

Multiple sclerosis has not yet been fully researched. That is why doctors do not know: how exactly does the disease arise? You suspect: many factors play a role. These include, for example:

  • the environment. Multiple sclerosis often occurs in cool areas.
  • the genetic makeup. Hereditary factors can promote multiple sclerosis.
  • a lack of vitamin D. A little sun could promote multiple sclerosis.
  • Smoke
  • Diet and intestinal flora
  • different viruses

What can you do about multiple sclerosis?

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. But multiple sclerosis is treatable. The goals of the treatment are for example:

  • the relapses should be prevented,
  • a disability should be postponed
  • and the progression of the disease should be delayed.

Each therapy is therefore precisely tailored to the patient. So there are three different types of treatment.

1. Thrust therapy

Flare therapy treats the acute flare-up of the disease. The patient is given cortisone for a few days. Cortisone is a drug. It fights inflammation. So the signs become less. But cortisone can have side effects. These include, for example, sleep disorders or stomach problems. For this reason, the patient is also given pills. They are supposed to protect the stomach lining.
Cortisone is often only given for a short period of time. Treatment with cortisone for too long has many side effects.

Cortisone is not working in a patient? Then this patient might get a blood wash. This cleanses the patient's blood.

2. Course-modifying therapy

During this treatment, the patient is given medication. The drugs affect the immune system. The immune system should work properly again.

3. Treatment of symptoms and additional measures

Multiple sclerosis patients can have various symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • cramped muscles
  • Bladder disorders
  • Disturbances in speaking
  • depressions

The symptoms can be alleviated by various measures. These include, for example:

  • Physiotherapy for movement disorders
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • psychotherapy
  • Medication

These measures are also intended to prevent long-term consequences.
Participating in a self-help group can also help a patient. There, sick people meet other people with multiple sclerosis. In a self-help group, patients can talk about their experiences.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about multiple sclerosis? You can find more information about multiple sclerosis here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.

multiple sclerosis