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Multiple sclerosis - why is it troublesome?

Nothing in our organism operates in auto mode. Everything needs to be told what and when to do. Central nervous system (CNS) is governing body of the organism. To tell it simply it controls the organism and tells it what to do and how to act, based on organism requirements and feedback from the organs, and tissues. Its control goes down to cellular level. Most controlling mechanisms are automatic and require no attention from higher levels of our brains.

For example, you need to "tell" your index finger to roll the scroll wheel on your mouse, but you never tell your heart to beat or to beat more rapidly, and your lungs work fine on their own although you can stop or accelerate breathing at will. Central nervous system consists of brain and spinal cord. From there, nerves spread on through the organism and carry information to the body and feedback to the CNS.

All nerves, including nerves in the central nervous system, are insulated with a layer of fatty material known as myelin much like electrical wire is covered. This insulating layer allows the nerves to transmit impulses (nerve impulse is basically a very weak electrical current) with speed and efficiency. If this layer is damaged, ability of nerves to transmit impulses becomes hampered. You know what happens when insulation blows in an electrical device. Well, it is similar to that. Multiple Sclerosis is condition of nerve demyelination (loss of myeline cover) and disruption of ability to relay signals from CNS to the body and vice versa.


Apparently, Multiple Sclerosis is condition where body's own immune system turns against the central nervous system, particularly targeting the myelin cover of nerves in the CNS. Areas where myelin has been destroyed look as if scarred, hence the name (sclerosis stands for scars in Latin). Areas where myelin is damaged becomes bottlenecks of nerve impulses that cause slowdown of impulse traffic, and ultimately leads to impaired nerve function.

At first, CNS compensates by rerouting traffic, but in advanced stages of the disease the process begins to attack the nerve cells themselves, slicing them, thus effectively disabling transfer of nerve impulses. In time, central nervous system becomes virtually severed from the rest of the body. Lack of communication with CNS leads to impaired function of organs and tissues, and ultimately to failure and cease of function.


As MS has many symptoms in common with other diseases and many symptoms are vague, it is easy to miss the exact underlying cause. There are no specific MS tests, but rather a series of tests that can help to evaluate symptoms. Unfortunately, none of them is infallible. It is estimated that 10% of diagnosed MS cases actually duffer from some other condition with similar symptoms.

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