Main Aspects Of MS Prevention

by Andrea Davidson

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory process that affects the components of the central nervous system namely the spinal cord and the brain. The condition preferentially affects the myelin sheath which is the protective covering of the spinal cord. Patients suffering from this condition will exhibit either psychological or physical symptoms or both. Fortunately, a number of patients will have a complete resolution of symptoms and will go back to normalcy. Others progress to chronic states. MS prevention should be aimed at stopping the onset of the symptoms.

The aetiological factors of this condition are a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Certain genetic variations have been shown to increase the risk of MS. The risk is higher in relatives of the affected individual with probability increasing among those very closely related. Identical twins have the highest chance of being victims, followed by fraternal twins, siblings and step siblings in that order. Predisposition is ten times higher when both parents are victims.

There is strong evidence to suggest that microbes may play a role in the aetiology. This is backed by two theories. The first of these theories is the hygiene hypothesis. In this theory, the disease occurs after a second exposure to a certain microbe. The first exposure to the microbe results in a protective reaction. The second theory is the prevalence hypothesis which purports that certain types of microbes are isolated in persons living in areas with a higher prevalence of MS as compared to those living in lower prevalent areas.

Several risk factors are thought to greatly contribute to worsening of MS. These factors include occupational exposure to toxins, smoking, hormonal treatments, stress, diet and vaccination among others. Avoiding these factors and behaviors is said to lower the risk of the condition significantly.

The pathology of the condition is manifested in three main ways; inflammation, formation of lesions and damage to nerve tissue. This is what causes the abnormalities that are seen clinically. Reaction between the sheath of nerve tissue and antibodies produced in the blood is thought to be the cause of this.

Four clinical courses exist; relapsing remitting, secondary and primary progressive and progressive relapsing. The relapsing remitting form is characterized by alternating periods of disease manifestation (relapse) and asymptomatic periods (remission). Secondary progressive occurs as a later stage of relapsing remitting type in 65% cases.

The priority after an episode of CNS attack should be to rehabilitate the affected individual and to prevent secondary attacks. Disability should be prevented if possible. Interferon beta and glatiramer are two drugs that have become very useful in the control of progression. There is a strong recommendation for prompt treatment of infections as these are a significant risk factor.

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