Multiple Sclerosis is a complex condition that primarily affects the central nervous system of the body causing nerve damage. It is caused due to a phenomenon when the immune system of the body mistakenly starts attacking the nerve fibers along with the protective around the nerves. Although the condition of Multiple Sclerosis always causes nerve damage, the pattern in which it happens is unique for all individuals, causing each person to experience the disease differently. There are four types of Multiple Sclerosis which are categorized based on the stages and progression of the disease. Learning about these stages helps both – the doctors and the patients – in understanding their condition and for the determination and preparation of possible treatment remedies.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis usually diagnosed in people, and it occurs mostly during the age bracket of 20 to 30 years. During this stage, the persons often experience new attacks or symptoms known as relapses. These relapses can take up to weeks, months, or even years for recovery, known as remissions. Typically each attack is followed by a period wherein the symptoms disappear or ease out, and are then followed by the next relapse. The extent and location of nerve damage in the body vary with each individual, and likewise, the remission time also varies. Eventually, most of the patients suffering from Relapsing-Remitting move to a stage known as Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
This stage or type of multiple sclerosis is relatively uncommon when compared to relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. This disease mostly occurs after the age of 40 years. Individuals who have primary progressive multiple sclerosis often experience symptoms that gradually get worse with each passing week, and there is minimal scope for recovery. The usual treatment methods aren’t much effective on this type of multiple sclerosis. This disease is relatively uncommon, but it may even cause disability, with almost no chances of recovery.
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
After experiencing relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis for years, most of the individuals will eventually get this condition. Typically, this change happens after 10 to 20 years of being diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. In this type of multiple sclerosis, the symptoms begin to occur rather steadily without any remissions. Although it is unclear why this shift occurs, there are certain analogies developed through research. People who are relatively older when first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis have a shorter time period before the disease becomes secondary progressive. Likewise, patients who are not able to fully recover from relapses move to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis faster. This stage can be challenging to treat, and some bodily functions may get hampered permanently or for prolonged durations.
Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis
Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis is the least common form or stage of multiple sclerosis; in fact, it is so rare that very little is known about it among the medical fraternity. The attacks or relapses tend to occur very often, and the symptoms can continue to get worse between every episode of relapse.
Multiple sclerosis affects every individual differently. It is because the pattern of nerve damage is unique to every individual. The progression of the disease may not always be predictable. The common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are:
- Tiredness or Fatigue
- Burning sensations
- Blurred visions, Loss of eyesight
- Difficulty in paying attention
- Loss of memory
- Physical troubles
- Problems in thinking
There are other less common symptoms such as speech troubles, tremors, seizures, hearing loss, etc. Your doctor may prescribe some over the counter medicine to help you find relief in addition to some specific medicines like Tecfidera which are known to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis.
It is still not clear what exactly causes multiple sclerosis; it is still being explored and researched further. However, there are a few risk factors that have been identified:
- Geographical Location – people who reside in colder areas are more likely to get multiple sclerosis than those living in the warmer parts of the globe.
- Lifestyle – people who smoke are more prone to multiple sclerosis than non-smokers.
- Genes – siblings have a fair chance of getting multiple sclerosis if their brother or sister has it. This probability is significantly higher for identical twins.