Today is World MS Day. This day is intended to draw attention to a frequently misunderstood illness: Multiple sclerosis is not a mental disorder and also not a muscle loss, but a nerve disorder.
The disease overrides the body's immune system and damages the central nervous system. Cells that are usually used to ward off diseases get out of control and attack molecules in the brain and spinal cord. This ignites the nervous system.
The misdirected immune cells destroy the insulating layers of the nerve fibers, and therefore the tissue hardens. As a result, the information pathways from the nerve cells to the brain are blocked.
The nerve disorders show up as paralysis, visual disturbances and feelings of numbness in the arms and legs. Affected people see everything “as if through a veil” or twice: Multiple sclerosis is often first recognized by an ophthalmologist. Those affected mumble, they are easily exhausted, their moods fluctuate without any external reason, the sick forget a lot.
But all of these symptoms also apply to many other disorders, and MS also manifests itself differently in each person affected - multiple: Some "only" suffer from twitching of the hands, others sit in a wheelchair after years of disability and can only move their head and neck . However, this only affects one in twenty MS patients.
The disease usually begins with significant flare-ups and then goes into a gradual process in which the overall condition continues to deteriorate.
The disease is incurable. Combined with the creeping course, unpredictable spurts and the prospect of being in a wheelchair at some point, the diagnosis of MS is bad news for those affected.
Although MS cannot be cured, treatment has progressed in the past 20 years: Especially with an early diagnosis, the course can be alleviated and slowed down today.
Cortisone and blood washes help with acute relapses, other drugs successfully stabilize the immune system.
Doctors are currently examining drugs that are supposed to heal nerve fiber sheaths. Some experts have high hopes for nanomedicine: nanoparticles in medicine to repair damaged nerve pathways. A current pioneering study promises help: plant peptides can stop the course of MS.
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy help those affected to deal with the disabilities caused by the disease: gait disorders can be remedied, for example, by training, spasticities are resolved by relaxing the muscles.
Occupational therapies even help those affected if nerve pathways are destroyed by a flare. Patients learn to train healthy nerves, for example to perform certain finger movements again.
New therapies want to tackle MS symptoms with yoga and aquafit.
Who is affected?
Around 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from MS, 200,000 in Germany, roughly three times as many women as men. Why women get MS more often than men is still unclear with the MS mystery.
The nerve disease is still a white spot on the medical map. However, most scientists agree that various factors must work together before this nerve disorder develops. Possible triggers include an imbalance in the intestinal bacterial balance, previous infections and a vitamin D deficiency. Genetic dispositions exist, but MS is not an inherited disorder. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)