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Multiple Sclerosis Essay Research Paper Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis Essay, Research Paper Multiple Sclerosis Jason Garoutte November 18, 1996 English / Mr. Blunt Multiple sclerosis is one of the most misunderstood diseases of this

Multiple Sclerosis Essay, Research Paper

Multiple Sclerosis

Jason Garoutte November 18, 1996 English / Mr. Blunt

Multiple sclerosis is one of the most misunderstood diseases of this

century. Since it’s discovery, there is still no known causes, no proven

treatments, and no known cure, yet it affects possibly five hundred thousand

people in the United States alone. People need to learn more about this disease

so it can be brought to the attention of the nation.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. It destroys

the fatty myelin sheath that insulates your nerve cells. Without this

insulation, nerve communication is disrupted. The body then makes this worse by

repairing it, and clogging the area with scar tissue. Signals going from your

brain and brain stem, such as muscle coordination signals or visual sensation

signals, are slowed greatly, or just blocked off. Thus, a person afflicted with

Multiple Sclerosis can suffer any number of symptoms.

Researchers are not sure yet as to the cause of Multiple Sclerosis. There

is a kind of deadlock among scientists and doctors whether it’s hereditary,

viral, or a combination of the two, with the disease being hereditary, but with

a viral trigger, or just a simple chemical imbalance in the immune system. One

thing is certain, though. Some sort of defect in the immune system causes white

blood cells to attack and destroy the myelin sheath.

There are five main types of Multiple Sclerosis. The first type is Benign

Multiple Sclerosis. It is the least severe, has little progression, and takes up

twenty percent of all cases. The second type is Benign Relapsing-Remitting

Multiple Sclerosis. It carries symptoms that fluctuate in severity, mild

disability, and it makes up thirty percent of the total. The third type is

Chronic Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. It is characterized by disability that

increases with each attack, and it is the most common with forty percent of all

cases. Chronic Progressive Multiple Sclerosis is the fourth type. It has

continuous disability that worsens as time goes by, and ten percent of all cases

are this. The last type is a very rare class called Acute Progressive Multiple

Sclerosis. This kind can kill in weeks or months, in contrast with the usual

years or decades.

Due to the type of disease and the areas it affects, there are a great

number of possible symptoms. These symptoms can fool the most experienced

physician into thinking that it is a psychological disease. The most common

symptoms are bouts of overwhelming fatigue, loss of coordination, muscle

weakness, numbness, slurred speech, and visual difficulties. These symptoms may

occur for a number of years before one is actually diagnosed, and these symptoms

will appear with little or no warning. Attacks of these symptoms appear most

often three to four years after the first incident.

Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed by a number of ways. Most of the time, the

first test done is an MRI — Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scanner. This test maps

out your brain and looks for areas that have been scarred over, or ‘plaques’,

and usually takes an hour. White spots on normally gray areas usually signify a

plaque. Next, a lumbar puncture, more commonly known as a spinal tap, is done.

This test involves some discomfort, and although the actual puncture lasts only

fifteen minutes, the procedure can leave the patient disabled for anywhere from

two hours to two weeks. About a week after the spinal tap is done, a series of

three tests are performed to measure the time it takes for impulses to travel

through your brain and nerves. These tests are known separately as the Visual

Evoked Potential Test, the Auditory Evoked Potential Test, and the

Electrodiagnostic Test. The Visual Evoked Potential Test, or V.E.P., records

the brain wave patterns and reaction time with alternating patterns on a nearby

monitor. The Auditory Evoked Potential Test, or A.E.P., uses pulses of sharp

‘clicks’ to time your reactions. In the final test, the electrodiagnostic, an

electric current is passed through certain pressure points, and sensors on the

head, chest, and back record just how fast the impulses are transmitting through

your body and brain. With the positioning of the sensors, the technician can

determine where a slowdown, if any, is occurring.

The disease cannot be cured, and treatments are few. There is no common

treatment that researchers can agree on. Some swear by diet treatments, which

have been found by patients in nonclinical studies to slow or arrest the

advancement of Multiple Sclerosis. Usually the diet therapies involve a few

months eliminating allergic foods from your diet, and since foods that are

slightly allergic are usually your favorite foods, it’s a very hard treatment to

stick to. Others swear by drugs and the like, such as ACTH (adrenocorticotropic

hormone), which is the most commonly prescribed treatment, or copolymer I and

cyclosporine, which have shown promise in laboratory studies.

The statistics of Multiple Sclerosis are puzzling at best. For example,

the fact that there are many more cases in the northern latitudes than in the

southern latitudes is one thing that confuses researchers. As you approach the

equator, patients suffering with Multiple Sclerosis are almost zero. Also, most

victims are between the ages of twenty and forty-five years old, with the

majority of them being women. Multiple Sclerosis also affects more people of

the Caucasian persuasion. Multiple Sclerosis affects an estimated three hundred

fifty to five hundred thousand Americans, with eight thousand more cases being

reported each year. Fortunately, the average life span of a patient with

Multiple Sclerosis is seventy-five percent of normal, and only a quarter of all

diagnosed will ever need a wheelchair.

Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most confusing diseases that has ever

afflicted mankind. More and more possible treatments are found, but still no

cure. So people with Multiple Sclerosis must learn to live with the disease,

learn to cope. And others should learn more about the disease, so it isn’t

ignored in the future.

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