CARE FOR PEOPLE WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Imagine that one day your world becomes a blurred, shaking image and you become perpetually dizzy. You see people communicate with each other in an incomprehensible dialect. You find it difficult to move on a topsy-turvy floor that rises and falls right in front of your eyes. You find it difficult to pronounce even the simplest of words.
Does this frighten you?
This is everyday life for people with multiple sclerosis. They find themselves completely dependent on help from other people around them, even for the smallest of tasks.
Patients with multiple sclerosis also struggle with mental strain that can be difficult to bear. They become stressed and self-conscious about the progression of the disease. Uncertainty about the next attack only adds to their confusion and frustration.
WHAT HAPPENS IN MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s defence mechanism starts attacking the central nervous system. This happens through the antibodies that are present in every human. The main task of these cells is to fight viruses and harmful bacteria in the body.
Due to some unknown anomaly, these antibodies start attacking the cells of our own body. In multiple sclerosis, antibodies attack the casings made of myelin protein that cover the nerve cells of the spinal cord. The nerve casings are extremely important to protect the delicate nerve fibres underneath that run throughout the body.
The nerve cells are responsible for transmitting stimuli through the nerve pathways. Once the outer covering is damaged, the cells inside get affected by bacteria and other erosions more easily. This can affect the speed of messages that travel back and forth on the nerve pathway. Messages from limbs to the brain can also become blocked.
WHO CAN SUFFER FROM MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
The exact cause of why the autoimmune systems start malfunctioning and attacking the nerve cell coating is not known. Researchers have identified some risk factors that increase the chances of the disorder.
- Age: Although MS can affect people at any age, it affects most people between the ages of 15 to 60.
- Gender: Studies show that women tend to be affected more than men.
- Heredity: People with a family history of the disease are more likely to be affected by the disorder.
- Race: White people, particularly those of Northern European descent, are more likely to be affected by the disease.
- Infections: People with previous infections including Epstein-Barr virus are at a greater risk of contracting the disease.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
The first symptoms of the disease in many cases are sudden visual disturbances associated with optic neuritis. These disorders can be mild or lead to near complete blindness. The loss of vision can be reversible after the right diagnosis of the disease and correct therapy.
Other initial symptoms of sclerosis are sensation disorders, numbness, hyperaesthesia and weakness. The disease progresses in bouts where the patient enters periods of degeneration followed by remission. A period of relapse is characterized by the resolution of disease symptoms and almost full recovery. It is not possible to predict the appearance of the next flare-up for the person. It is often provoked by infection, stress or disruption to the rhythm of life.
In the long run, the disorder leads to impairment of vision, muscular strength, limb motility, sphincter function and sense of touch. It may be accompanied by pain or hypersensitivity: burning, throbbing, and numbness. The disease may also be associated with changes in the patient’s psyche: depression or weakening of cognitive functions.
WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS OF A PATIENT WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
The exact cause for the development of multiple sclerosis in a patient is still difficult to predict. The frequency of bouts and their extent can give doctors some idea about the severity of the disease. However, it is still not enough to determine the future progress of the disorder for the affected person.
Each re-emission of the disease is disadvantageous to the patient, due to the irreversible neurological deficits that it causes. The accumulation of these lapses gradually disable several functions, leading to disability.
These days, the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis does not mean the patient will be bound to a wheelchair in the future. Many patients respond well to therapies and medical treatments. Diligent care for the person along with therapy can postpone the next bout of the disease and slow it down.Good 24-7 home care provides the patient with the longest possible comfort of life.