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Knowing Multiple Sclerosis Risk Factors and Life Expectancy: The Disease Prognosis, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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A chronic illness affecting the Central Nervous System, Multiple Sclerosis impacts the entire human body. The symptoms of this disease are thus not located to any specific organ or region but instead can be observed throughout the body. 

Although not a fatal disease, Multiple Sclerosis impacts several organs and interrupts with their everyday functions. 

Multiple scar tissue, or lesions, formation in the spinal cord, brain and optic nerves’ nerve fibre is the most observable and detectable symptom of this auto-immune disease whose primary cause is not known. It is thus even more crucial to keep disease diagnosis scheduled and get assessed regarding what is Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy based on disease advancement.

The illness is progressive and leads to body degeneration over the years. Women are at 3x the risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis. However, a cure for this degenerative disease has not been found yet. The treatments and medications thus mostly address the affected organs, tissues, or functions only and not the cause of such degeneration.

Here’re some essential details related to the Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy, risk factors, and diagnosis that can be useful to know for a proactive approach to its prevention, identification, and impacts.

Causes and Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis

Although the primary cause for Multiple Sclerosis development is not known, several factors have been identified that influence or aggravate this medical condition. The Central Nervous System impacts the body’s movements, cognition, speech, sensation and memory functions which can be impacted. 

The control is achieved via electrical signals exchanged between the brain and the millions of nerve cells in the body. The nerve fibre of these cells is protected by a myelin sheath layer. This sheath also regulates brainwave signalling to the targeted cells, tissues, or organs.

However, if a person is affected by Multiple Sclerosis, their faulty auto-immune response ends up attacking and damaging the protective myelin sheath. Such an error in the body’s immune system compromises the sheath’s ability to communicate the signals. 

Such damage can result in symptoms causing debilitation of body functions such as fatigue, slurred speech, weakness in the muscles, and coordination issues like trouble walking. As the impact of Multiple Sclerosis varies from one physiology to another, the severity levels and progression rate of this disease are different too. 

The risk factors that may aggravate the chances of the human body developing this disease can be primarily identified under four categories, which include -

  1. The body’s immunity: The immune system’s faulty targeting of the body’s foreign objects results in a damaged myelin sheath of the nerve fibre. The illness is thus also identified under the auto-immune diseases’ category.
  2. Genetic build: Multiple Sclerosis also has a genetic root. Individuals who have a close relative, like a sibling or a parent, affected by the disease carry a higher chance of developing it than others. However, it is not yet identified as a hereditary disease.
  3. Possible infections: Certain types of viral infections are known to aggravate the risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis. Some of them include EPV, VZV, HHV-6, CMV, and HERVs.
  4. Environment of the person: Some environmental aspects are also identified to aggravate the risk of developing the illness, such as air pollution, low or limited exposure to Vitamin D, and exposure to certain organic solvents.

Some other risk factors that contribute to Multiple Sclerosis development or aggravation include obesity during childhood or adulthood, smoking habits, age, and gender. A study of the disease pattern has also suggested the contribution of geographic gradient towards the disease’s development. People living farther from the equator are more likely to carry the risk of developing it. 

Multiple Sclerosis Disease Prognosis and Diagnosis

As several symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis mimic those of other medical conditions, diagnosis of the disease becomes tough. However, there are some patterns and types that can confirm the disease’s presence in one’s body after due examination and conducting necessary tests. 

Also, it takes multiple tests to identify its presence. It may not be possible to determine if you have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis or not after only one attack of the possible symptoms.

Some common ways to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis are listed below.

  • An examination of neurological factors for possible symptoms such as issues with the vision, movement of the eyes, limb strength, reflexes, and coordination can suggest nerve fibre damage, leading to the symptoms. 
  • Detailed imaging of the Central Nervous System via an MRI scan can also help identify the disease’s prevalence.
  • The various types of evoked potential tests can track the different eye movements that the body undertakes as a reflex to various light waves, creating a brainwave map for possible neural disconnect or abrasion.
  • CSF through lumbar puncture to detect intrathecal production of IgG antibody and oligoclonal band can help diagnose the disease. Several blood tests are also conducted to rule out any other possible causes of the observed symptoms. Anti myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG antibody) can be detected in serum of patients suffering from MS.

The disease’s prognosis should be done through an identification of various symptoms as per the type of Multiple Sclerosis that the individual suffers. Some factors that can help determine the type of this illness include -

  1. Symptom severity
  2. Rate of disease progression
  3. The time gap between two consecutive flares
  4. Type of treatment administered
  5. Possible comorbidities

The Multiple Sclerosis Types Identifiable Based on This Prognosis are Characterised as - 

  1.  Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
  2.  Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
  3. Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
  4. Clinically Isolated Syndrome

Treatment of the disease can follow various available paths as well, such as through medications for relapse management, DMTs or Disease Modifying Therapies, mental health counselling, and physical rehabilitation. The advanced Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy can, however, be a matter of concern needing critical medical care.

Life Expectancy Among The Affected Patients

Even though Multiple Sclerosis is not a life-threatening, fatal disease, its progression can impact the overall Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy of the patient. While many patients affected by the disease carry a life expectancy that is close to normal. 

However, due to a widely varying disease progression scale, the predictability for an acute impact on Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy is low. 

Research suggests that two-thirds of the affected individuals carry up to two decades of their lives without any artificial support such as a wheelchair. In another study, the Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy has been found to reduce by up to 7.5 years  in patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

If you suffer from any of the possible symptoms indicating the disease’s onset, it is best to consult a specialist medical professional for disease diagnosis. Since isolated cases of symptoms’ appearance may not reveal the integral nerve fibre damage, one must be vigilant and cautious regarding repeating symptom appearances and undergo suitable treatment for the elimination, or at least reduction, of its prognosed symptoms. Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. offers both CSF and serum based tests for diagnosis of the disease. Make sure to consult with your doctor before going for these tests.

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