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Accurate information on MS can help those with multiple sclerosis -- and their loved ones -- better understand this disease. The information in this article provides an overview of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for people with multiple sclerosis.

Background Information on MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It can range from relatively benign to somewhat disabling to devastating, as communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted. The vast majority of patients are mildly affected, but in the worst cases, MS can render a person unable to write, speak, or walk.
 
MS is a disease with a natural tendency to temporarily go away for a period of time, and for which there is no universally effective treatment.
 

What Causes MS?

Many investigators believe that MS is an autoimmune disease -- one in which the body, through its immune system, launches a defensive attack against its own tissues. In the case of MS, the nerve-insulating myelin comes under assault. Such assaults may be linked to an unknown environmental trigger, perhaps a virus.
 

Symptom Information

Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40. The initial symptoms of MS often include:
 
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Red-green color distortion
  • Blindness in one eye.
 
Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis.
 
Most people with MS also exhibit paresthesias, which are temporary abnormal sensory feelings, such as:
 
  • Numbness
  • Prickling
  • "Pins and needles" sensations.
 
Some may also experience pain. Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints. Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss.
 
Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments, such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked. Depression is another common feature of MS.
 
(Click MS Symptoms for more information.)
 
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Information about MS

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