Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system which is unpredictable. This disease affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Due to this disease, various symptoms can be seen in the body. How this disease will progress in any individual is difficult to predict. In some people, symptoms may be mild, and in some people, they may be severe.
The initial symptoms of MS are often vision-related to double vision, blurred vision, red-green color distortion, but almost any part of the body can be affected by the disease, depending on which parts of the CNS are damaged. The data of how many people have MS is a challenging task to collect. According to NINDS, 250000 -350000 people live with MS. Common symptoms for this disease include problems with muscle weakness and balance, pins and needles, sensations of numbness, memory, and thinking, and emotion. MS has no cure currently, but there are many different therapies and treatments to reduce how often the symptoms return and manage the symptoms.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible for MS. But the exact cause of the disease is unknown. It is believed by scientists that it is an autoimmune disease. The myelin coating of the Central Nervous System is mistakenly attacked by the immune system. Nerves are protected by Myelin and help in the transmission of messages between the body and the brain. When the protective coating gets damaged, it can slow, stop, or alter these messages.
The risk of MS diagnosis can be increased by the event that causes inflammation of the Central Nervous System. EBV causes glandular fever, and this fever shows the most significant association with MS diagnosis. The researchers also found an increased risk associated with head trauma and other types of infection in the teenage years. According to the lead author of the study, one of the main issues faced while researching the risk factors of the disease is that they may occur many years before MS is diagnosed. MS has a long period of development before it is sufficiently symptomatic for a diagnosis.
Among the two siblings, one sibling develops a glandular fever and gets affected by the disease. The other sibling doesn’t develop glandular fever and is not affected by the disease, which would mean that it is due to MS being diagonalized and not the genetic predisposition. In research, teenagers showed the most significant risk of subsequent MS diagnosis.
According to the study, “infectious mononucleosis during ages 11–15 years was often associated with an MS diagnosis over age 30 years […]. The realization that adolescence is such an important time of susceptibility also focuses our work.” Studies like this are needed to find out the factor contributing to the risk of MS so that the strategies to prevent the onset of MS can be developed.
The study researchers noted that it was not possible to identify the symptomatic onset of MS before its diagnosis. The research team is now working to find out the environmental exposures related to MS risk. They are trying to find out whether the many risks are additive or some modify the outcome of others.