Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is an inflammation of the fatty myelin sheaths that are warped as a protective layer around axons of the brain and spinal cord. When the inflammation affects these sheaths, it gradually damages the layer, leading to demyelization and scaring. When this happens, the conduction of signals in the affected nerves is impaired, and results in various problems in sensation, movement, cognition, and other functions. The exact type of impairment depends on which nerves are involved in demyelization. This is a rare condition that affects between two and 150 individuals per 100,000.
Acute multiple sclerosis
Acute multiple sclerosis is also known as Marburg-type multiple sclerosis, malignant or fulminant multiple sclerosis. Some experts classify acute multiple sclerosis as a separate disease, while the others consider it one of the multiple sclerosis borderline diseases. This is the most severe type of multiple sclerosis that is usually lethal. However, there is some evidence that acute multiple sclerosis responds to Mitoxantrone, Alemtuzumab and autologous stem cell transplantation. Acute multiple sclerosis is very aggressive and advances quickly and uncompromisingly. It involves severe loss of myelin sheaths, leading to rapid disability and death. This form of multiple sclerosis usually affects young people and it is preceded by fever.
Causes of multiple sclerosis
There is no known definite cause for multiple sclerosis. Currently, scientists believe it is an autoimmune disorder where the damage is caused by the patient’s immune system when it starts to attack its own nervous system. It seems like this disease develops out of combination of genetic, environmental and infectious factors. Even though it has a genetic component, multiple sclerosis is not a hereditary disease. This genetic predisposition possibly makes the people more vulnerable to certain risk factors.
There are many environmental factors associated with this disease and living farther from the Equator seems to be the most important one. People living closer to the North or South Pole have less sun exposure and they are generally more prone to decreased vitamin D production.
Unmanaged stress may also be one of the factors, as in any other autoimmune disorder, but there is not enough evidence to support this claim. Exposure to the toxins, smoking habits, hormonal intake, and dietary factors are also considered as possible causes for multiple sclerosis.
Certain infections are also proposed as potential causes for multiple sclerosis. Infection with human herpes viruses or Epstein-Barr virus may also increase individual’s risk of contracting multiple sclerosis.