How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that affects the nerves and causes a lot of vision, balance and control problems. People that have passed half of their lives are usually more at risk of suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis makes the body attack it's own nerves, the membrane that protects them to be more precise. This membrane, called myelin sheaths is attacked by white blood cells and antibodies, which should normally attack bacteria and viruses that threaten to cause an infection in the body, or diseased cells that don't do what they are suppose to anymore. For some unknown reason they attack the healthy nerve-protecting cells. When the myelin steath is under attack the nerves can't send the normal signals to the nervous system and the sense in cause is seriously damaged.
Multiple sclerosis has a large variety of symptoms that vary from what patient to another and that depend on which nerve endings are attacked and do not function properly anymore. Among the most common symptoms you can find: tremor, partial or total temporary loss of vision, strength loss and weakness, confusion, head aches, memory loss and balance loss.
Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is not easy. It is based on the patient's medical history and a series of tests are also required.
First of all the patient must take some blood tests that scan for other diseases in order to determine if the symptoms are caused by other illnesses.
Then MRI testing is performed. MRI can give us detailed images of the brain and the other parts of the nervous system so we can determine whether something is wrong or not. During the MRI tests a very strong magnet scans the brain and the spine, and images with certain patterns on it will result. The doctors will determine if the patterns are normal or not. MRI can detect lesions that are specific only to sclerosis.
And finally, sometimes evoked potential tests are done. The evoked potentials are the electric impulses that the central nervous system sends to the nerves as a feedback to the information they send about the environment. When a person suffers from multiple sclerosis these impulses are slowed very much by a substance that appears in the case of a multiple sclerosis. The test try to measure the speed of the impulses and compare it to the normal speed.
Elaborate tests need to be done to diagnose sclerosis because it is often confused with other diseases with similar symptoms like osteoarthritis and epilepsy.
After the diagnosis is done the treament must begin. There is no know cure for multiple sclerosis so the only things we can do is to try to stop the attacks when they occur. A lot of reasearch is done in order to ease the diagnosis process and to the multiple sclerosis causes.
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