Multiple sclerosis: causes, symptoms and treatment for the disease

ever heard of multiple sclerosis? If you watched television in the 2000s, you may remember Marinete, a character played by actress and comedian Cláudia Rodrigues, in the series “A Diarista”. Claudia, who has been diagnosed with the disease, has been undergoing treatment for more than two decades. Find out more about the disease, causes and treatment below.

A sclerosis is autoimmune disease, and chronic, which affects neurons in specific regions of the central nervous system (CNS). Its action on the neuron demyelinates the axon sheath, preventing the nerve impulse from being efficiently carried, causing changes in the functioning of the body, affecting vision, cognition, memory and motor coordination. But let’s go by parts to explain more clearly the mechanism of this disease.

Imaging tests help diagnose multiple sclerosisImaging tests help diagnose multiple sclerosisFonte:  Shutterstock

To be able to unscramble all this information, we need to understand what it is. autoimmune diseasesand what is this myelin sheath.

Let’s start with autoimmune diseases.

When our body suffers from some inflammation or cell injury, specific cells responsible for immunity in our body recognize and attack aggressive agents, which can be viruses, bacteria, or even exposure to chemical agents, and neutralize this threat. However, on some occasions, these defense cells begin to interpret healthy cells in our body as aggressive agents, and destroy them.

in the case of multiple sclerosis, these defense cells attack neurons, destroying the myelin sheath that covers the axon. It is as if the defense cells destroyed the layer of a conducting wire of energy. Without this part that covers the wire, the energy does not reach the terminal correctly, preventing information from being correctly passed from one neuron to another.

Gradually, the action of the immune system destroys the myelin sheaths of neuronsGradually, the action of the immune system destroys the myelin sheaths of neuronsFonte:  Shutterstock

Without this information, our nervous system does not function efficiently, and in the case of multiple sclerosis, there are regions that are most targeted by our faulty immune cells, which mainly affect neurons in the brain, brain stem, optic nerves, and spinal cord. . These sclerosis regions of interest affect speech, motor coordination, thought processing, vision and memory. Other clinical signs and symptoms are: fatigue, tingling sensation in the limbs, loss of muscle strength, walking difficulties, among others.

The causes can be genetic, with genes already identified by science, which may have a hereditary factor, and by environmental factors, such as: viral infections, vitamin D deficiency for a long time, smoking, obesity and prolonged exposure to chemicals.

It is believed that exposure to these factors during adolescence has a greater influence on the development of multiple sclerosis during youth and adulthood. Since most of the affected population is composed of women, between 20 and 40 years old.

What is the diagnosis and treatment for multiple sclerosis?

The diagnosis for multiple sclerosis is performed through MRI scans, performed on the skull and spine, and collection of cerebrospinal fluid by lumbar puncture. The images look for lesions that appear as calcified points in the central nervous system. In order to be considered a positive diagnosis, these lesions must meet specific criteria for location in the CNS, and have at least two points affected, which, together with clinical signs and symptoms, and CSF analysis, indicate the presence of the lesion. disease.

The treatment is carried out in a pharmacological way, with medications that aim to suppress the action of immune cells in the body, and reduce the occurrence of demyelinating outbreaks. This immunosuppression helps the immune system of the person with sclerosis do not attack neurons in a disorderly way, preventing a rapid progression of the disease.

In addition to drug treatment, there is also the possibility of stem cell transplantation in order to restore normal immune system functions. Actress Cláudia Rodrigues underwent this treatment, and showed improvement. But due to some mechanisms of disease not yet fully clarified, even so, there was progression of the sclerosis.

Is Multiple Sclerosis Curable?

Unfortunately, there is still no definitive cure, and the multiple sclerosis tends to be progressive and irreversible. However, in the early stages of the disease, under proper treatment, there are great possibilities for recovery, reducing the risk of sequelae with each demyelinating outbreak, providing more activity time for this patient.

Even with the progression over the years, it is possible to maintain quality of life with proper treatment and medical follow-up.

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