The Pathology of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease which affects the nervous system, namely the brain and spinal cord. It causes damage the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects nerve cells (Marieb, 2012). This damage slows down the process in which the brain relays messages to the rest of the body, leading to a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common include pain and numbness; fatigue; walking, balance, and coordination problems; bladder and bowel dysfunction; vision problems; cognitive dysfunction; emotional changes and depression (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, n.d.). Though the exact cause of MS is unknown, it’s widely thought to be an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body (Marieb, 2012). In other words, the body actually attacks its own cells. The immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it. The disease affects women more than men, often beginning sometime between the ages of 20 to 40. Recently, a study found that the incidence of MS appears to be higher in African American women than in caucasians, contradicting previous findings (Langer-Gould, Brara, Beaber, & Zhang, 2013). The disease is usually mild; however, some people lose the ability to write, speak and/or walk. No cause or cure for MS has been found. It remains a mysterious disease with no known pathogen or even known determinants of its severity and course. Three recently published studies say that salt may play a role in MS and other autoimmune diseases, although no study has found a direct link between high salt intake and increased incidence of MS. On a more peculiar note, researchers in England have been investigating how the month of birth (May and November) affects the chances of having MS later in life. It’s thought that it could have something to do with climate, sunlight, and intake of...
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