You will find that every five minutes, a person is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, infamously known as MS, a neurological disease affecting more than 2.8 million people across all ages worldwide. This year, MS is going to be the center of discussion while commemorating World Brain Day on 22nd July 2021.
Background: The World Federation of Neurology (WFN) was established in Brussels on this very day in the year 1957. Today it represents 120 neurological societies across the globe. It aims to promote neurological education and training globally, especially in the regions where brain health is generally ignored. Since the year 2014, the 22nd day of July has been observed as World Brain Day.
This year, the biennial World Congress of Neurology was supposed to be held in Rome, which could not happen due to the Covid outbreak. Let us look at the disease that has been steadily topping the chart amongst life-altering neurological disorders for a few years now.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS): (Multiple = many, Sclerosis = hardening of tissues due to overgrowth of the fibrous part of the tissue.
Causes: The exact reason for this disease has been unknown. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin in the Central Nervous System. People having family members previously diagnosed with MS might have a slightly higher risk of getting affected.
Symptoms: There is an extensive range of symptoms in the case of MS, making the disease harder to be identified in the primary stage. These can include,
- Urinary Bladder issues (frequent urination)
- Ataxia or impaired coordination
- Numbness/pain in different parts of the body (Sensory Symptoms)
- Muscle stiffness or spasms (Spasticity)
- Worsening condition in the heat
- Trouble in short term memory and concentrating
- Double vision
- Abortive Therapies: For acute relapse of the symptoms, steroids such as Glucocorticoids are prescribed. This particular type of steroid is used in allergy and asthma too. It involves IV/intravenous (through a vein in the arm) methylprednisolone given once a day for a period of three to five days. Sometimes it is followed with steroid pills for an additional one to two weeks.
- Preventive Therapies: In the last seventeen years, the FDA has approved only seven preventative treatment methods to bring down the severity and the number of times the reoccurence.
- Interferon-beta-1a – once a week intramuscular injection
- Interferon beta-1b –may be given every other day.
- Glatiramer acetate – a synthetic protein injected, which is structurally similar to a component of myelin.
- Natalizumab – a monoclonal antibody given intravenous once every four weeks
- Mitoxantrone – a chemotherapy drug given by intravenous infusion every three months
The inflammation and damage from MS can interrupt the normal nerve transmission in the brain and spinal cord. That can lead to various symptoms, as discussed before. Some of these may be temporary, and some may become permanent. Good communication between the patient and the Therapist is needed, and often, the persistence and expertise of multiple specialists are required to treat a single case. The major goal of all these therapists and specialists is to maintain independent function and improve the patient’s quality of life. Medicines being only one part of the treatment, a patient might take advice from different specialists as per their need to manage it on a long-term basis.
In short, with our current lifestyle and diet, one in every three of us will have a stroke or dementia. One in every ten of us will be diagnosed with MS. The question is, are we aware? The answer is simple, Use brain, or lose brain.