General Practice 2022

MúMultiple sclerosis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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MúMultiple sclerosis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
MúMultiple sclerosis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Multiple sclerosis is a disease characterized by the immune system "attacking" the myelin sheath, which is a protective structure that coats neurons, causing permanent destruction or damage to the nerves, which leads to a communication problem between the brain and the rest of the body.

Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary and depend on how many and which nerves are affected, but usually include muscle weakness, tremor, tiredness, or loss of movement control and the ability to walk or talk, for example.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has no cure, but the treatments available, with corticosteroids, anticonvulsants and immunosuppressants, for example, can help control symptoms, prevent crises or delay their evolution and should always be be referred by a neurologist.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The main symptoms of multiple sclerosis are:

  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in arms or legs;
  • Involuntary eye movement;
  • Lack of muscle strength;
  • Stiffness or muscle spasm;
  • Tremor;
  • Headache or migraine;
  • Memory lapses and difficulty concentrating;
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence;
  • Vision problems such as double, cloudy, or blurred vision;
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing;
  • Changes in walking or loss of balance;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Depression.

These symptoms do not all appear at the same time, but they can decrease the quality of life. In addition, symptoms can be aggravated when exposed to heat or if you have a fever, and may spontaneously reduce when the temperature returns to normal.

Multiple sclerosis manifests itself through symptoms that become more evident during periods known as crisis or outbreaks of the disease, which appear throughout life, or due to disease progression. Thus, these can be very different, varying from one person to another, and may regress, disappearing completely when performing the treatment, or not, leaving some sequels.

Symptom Test

To know the risk of having multiple sclerosis or having a crisis, select the symptoms presented in the following test:

  1. 1.Lack of strength in arms or difficulty walking Yes No
  2. 2.Recurrent tingling in arms or legs Yes No
  3. 3.Difficulty coordinating movements Yes No
  4. 4.Difficulty holding urine or stools Yes No
  5. 5.Memory loss or difficulty concentrating Yes No
  6. 6.Difficulty seeing or blurred vision Yes No


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How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is made by a neurologist based on the person's medical history and symptoms, blood tests to help rule out other conditions with symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis, and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as magnetic resonance imaging, for example, in which degradation of the myelin sheath can be verified.

In addition, other tests that the doctor may order are the study of evoked potentials to record the electrical signals produced by the nerves in response to stimuli and the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid extracted by lumbar puncture that may show abnormalities in associated antibodies to multiple sclerosis and help rule out infections and other conditions with multiple sclerosis-like symptoms.Learn how lumbar puncture is performed.

Possible causes

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, however it is known that the onset of symptoms is related to immunological alterations. In addition, some factors may favor the development of multiple sclerosis, such as:

  • Be between 20 and 40 years old;
  • Being a woman, as being female has been found to increase two to three times the chances of developing multiple sclerosis than men;
  • Having multiple sclerosis in the family as parents or siblings;
  • Being an autoimmune disease such as thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Having low levels of vitamin D.

In addition, it was found that infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, responsible for mononucleosis, can increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis by 32 times, however, more studies should be carried out to verify if the development of drugs and Epstein-Barr virus vaccine would be effective in preventing multiple sclerosis.

How the treatment is done

Treatment of multiple sclerosis should be done with medications prescribed by the doctor in order to prevent the progression of the disease, reduce the time and intensity of crises and control symptoms, and the use of anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, analgesics and muscle relaxants, for example.

Furthermore, physical therapy is an important treatment in multiple sclerosis because it allows muscles to be activated, controlling leg weakness, difficulty walking, or preventing muscle atrophy. Physiotherapy for multiple sclerosis consists of stretching and strengthening exercises.

Check all treatment options for multiple sclerosis.

Care during treatment

Some important measures during the treatment of multiple sclerosis help to control symptoms and prevent the disease from progressing and include:

  • Sleep at least 8 to 9 hours a night;
  • Doing exercises recommended by your doctor;
  • Avoid exposure to heat or hot places, preferring mild temperatures;
  • Relieve stress with activities such as yoga, tai-chi, massage, meditation or deep breathing.

It is important to follow up with the neurologist, who should also guide changes in diet and a balanced diet rich in vitamin D. Check the complete list of foods rich in vitamin D.

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