Multiple Sclerosis and its Effects on the Brain,Body and Family
My dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when I was 11. The only significant disease I knew a lot about at the time was cancer, so hearing that he had MS didn’t seem like a big deal. It wasn’t until he started to show more and more symptoms, like often falling up the stairs, becoming more irritable than usual, and not being as playful as he once was, that I began to truly miss my dad. Many studies have been conducted regarding why scientists think MS occurs, but nobody has yet found the exact reason. However, scientists do understand what happens in the brain and how MS occurs. Although MS is not curable, most people live normal day-to-day lives, as stated by the Brain Foundation. My dad is one of the 2.3 million people with MS. This paper examines different types of research on the brain and bodies of people with MS to determine its impact on one’s family.
The Brain Foundations (2018) article regarding their studies on how MS occurs found that the protective coating around the axon, called the myelin sheaths, gets damaged or scarred through demyelination. Demyelination occurs when the body of someone with MS mistakenly attacks and damages the myelin, leaving an opening for the immune system to attack. The myelin sheath is the protector and insulator for the nerves. When damaged, they cannot send the correct signals to the other parts of the body, creating many of the symptoms of MS. Although the cause of MS is unknown, many theories exist on how it may be triggered. According to the National MS Society (2012), scientists believe this disease is triggered by an unknown environmental factor, immunologic factors, and genetic factors that all coincide to make up this disease.
How it works
A geographical gradient exists in the prevalence of MS: it occurs more frequently in people who live farther away from the equator. The National MS Society (2012) believes that one of the reasons this may be a cause of MS is because of vitamin D exposure. People who live closer to the equator get more sunlight year-round, therefore having more naturally produced vitamin D, which protects against immune diseases like MS. There is also evidence of how smoking plays a role in MS. The National MS Society states that studies have shown that smoking increases a person’s risk of getting MS, along with many other diseases. They have also discovered that stopping smoking is associated with a slower progression of MS but that continued smoking may result in a faster progression of MS. In relapsing-remitting MS, inflammatory cells attack the myelin, resulting in activated immune cells causing small, localized areas of damage and producing the MS symptoms (WebMD, 2005). Therefore, the association of obesity as another risk factor is logical.
Studies have shown that being obese in early childhood and adolescence, primarily in girls, increases the risk of developing MS. As the National MS Society (2012) stated, obesity can contribute to the inflammation that causes MS activity or relapsing-remitting MS. Multiple sclerosis is not an inherited disease, meaning that it is not directly passed down. However, the risk of having MS is increased when you have a first-degree relative who has the disease. The odds of having MS when being an identical twin of someone with MS are 1 in 4. It is said that around 200 genes have been found that contribute to the risk of developing MS. Multiple Sclerosis and its Effects on the Brain.