Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and unpredictable disease affecting the central nervous system. It’s a condition that causes the body’s own immune system to mistakenly attack its own healthy cells as if they were an infection. In the case of MS, the immune system specifically attacks the myelin sheath—a protective covering for nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This ultimately interrupts signals that are sent throughout the nervous system, the brain, and the body, causing a number of bodily malfunctions.
There are four types of MS: relapsing-remitting MS, secondary-progressive MS, primary-progressive MS, and progressive-relapsing MS.
Around 85% of people who receive an MS diagnosis are diagnosed with RRMS, making it the most common form of MS. RRMS causes temporary periods of disability, which are often referred to as exacerbations.
Most people initially diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to SPMS. Here, symptoms begin to worsen steadily over time. The patient may or may not experience an exacerbation in order for this to occur.
With only about 10% of people with MS suffering from PPMS, this is not very common. It is characterized by progressively worsening symptoms from the onset of the disease, with no relapses or remissions occurring.
This is a very rare form of MS. It involves acute relapses with no remissions and is a steadily worsening disease from the beginning. Relapses may or may not end in recovery.
Once a person has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they will likely begin to research their available treatment options. Along with treating the MS itself, new patients should also look more into how to cope with the life changes that MS usually causes. This is why it’s important to find a specialist with extensive experience in diagnosing, treating, and studying the condition. You want a physician who will not only understand the disease inside and out but also be able to help you manage the disease from a well-rounded perspective.
Current Medications for MS
There are currently three types of medications available for people suffering from MS. The first option is daily oral pills that are relatively new to the market. These can cause side effects that are more severe than some of the other treatments, but they are also more effective.
Patients can also choose to do self-injections at home. These come in several forms ranging from daily injections to weekly injections. The side effects of these injections are mostly minimal; however, some may not want to give themselves such frequent injections. These injections are also less effective than other treatments.
The third option is a monthly infusion in the hospital. While this comes about mid-range regarding its effectiveness, it is easy to just focus on once a month and not have to worry about it. The side effects of this drug are minimal; however, it comes along with great risks for people who have been exposed to the JC virus, so patients must be tested for this virus prior to receiving treatment.
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