Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis and Treatments You Need to Know

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and unpredictable disease that affects the brain and the spinal cord.  According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, more than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide – but this number is just an estimate. Often, new cases of MS go undocumented, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t require U.S. doctors to report MS incidences.

Anyone can develop MS, and unfortunately, there’s no cure for this terrible disease. However, there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms, reduce relapses, and delay the disease’s progression.

Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

As of right now, the cause of MS is unknown. This is why it’s such a frightening disease – there’s no known way to prevent its onset, putting everyone at risk.

MS is considered an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system attacks itself and destroys the myelin, or the protective coating around nerve fibers. When the myelin is damaged, the nerve becomes exposed, which slows down or blocks the signals to the brain. Again, it’s not known what causes this chain of events to ultimately lead to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Common Treatments for MS

Although there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, if you’re living with MS, you do have options. There are ways to slow the disease in its tracks or alleviate the symptoms of an attack or relapse.

it’s important to understand the different medications that are available to help manage the symptoms of an MS attack. The treatment you’ll need will depend on the severity of your symptoms, but the following are commonly used when a flare up occurs:

Corticosteroids

A class of steroid hormones that are used to relieve inflammation. This type of drug is typically administered orally or via injections. Common side effects of this drug include insomnia, increased blood pressure, and mood swings.

Plasma Exchange

This treatment involves removing plasma, the liquid part of your blood, and separating it from your blood cells. A protein solution is then mixed with your blood cells and injected back into your body – this process is often used if the body hasn’t responded to steroids.

If your MS has relapsed, your doctor may suggest the following treatment options:

Beta Interferons

The most commonly prescribed medication to help reduce the frequency of relapses, this treatment is typically injected under the skin or into your muscles.

Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)

An antibody medication, Ocrelizumab is the only DMT approved by the FDA to help treat relapses and slow down the progression of the disease. It’s important to note that Ocrevus may increase your risk of developing some type of cancers, predominantly breast cancer.

There are several other treatment options for relapsing-remitting MS, so it’s important to discuss all of the available options with your doctor or a health care provider as to what treatment is best for you.

Treatments You Might Not Know About

In addition to pharmaceutical medication, you can also slow down the progression of MS through alternative herbal and supplementary treatments. However, make sure to inform your doctor or health care provider before trying any of these alternative herbal supplements.

Ashwagandha

The berries, roots, and extracts from this herb can be used to fight chronic pain, fatigue, inflammation, among others. It’s important to note there’s not enough evidence as to whether or not this herb can effectively relieve MS symptoms.

Chamomile

Chamomile offers both antioxidant and antibacterial effects and is used topically and orally to help with a variety of conditions including sleeplessness, relief of abdominal discomfort and gas or diarrhea – all signs and symptoms that may affect a person with MS.

Echinacea

For MS patients, this plant can be effective for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, take precaution as some people may be allergic to this specific plant.

Early Signs and Symptoms

It’s important to note that the signs and symptoms of MS may differ from person to person. MS can progress over time leaving a person permanently disabled.  Also, not everyone with MS will experience the following symptoms:

  1. Numbness or tingling feeling in your legs
  2. Blurry vision, usually in one eye at a time, often causing pain
  3. Prolonged double vision
  4. Slurred speech
  5. Fatigue
  6. Dizziness
  7. Bowel and bladder problems

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s best to consult with your doctor or a health care provider.

2K