Different diseases can affect human organism. Some of them do not have serious outcomes when the others lead to its malfunction or death. Some disorders appear because of specific factors (bacteria, week immune system, trauma, and many others) whereas some conditions do not have definite causes. One of such diseases is multiple sclerosis (MS). Even though numerous scientists tried to find the explanation for its occurrence, they did not manage to find one definite answer. Meanwhile, more and more people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis each year. The disease can be partially treated or at least controlled, but the success of interventions varies with each person. Since everyone risks acquiring MS, I decided to discuss this disease. I want to be aware of the effects it has on human organism in order to notice it early enough to receive required treatment and be ready to potential aggravations.
Multiple sclerosis is the disorder affecting the central nervous system (CNS) of young adults – those of 20-40 years old. The damage to the CNS is irreversible. It is the cause of physical problems associated with MS. According to Groetzinger, this condition is the most frequent one in Canada among those that affect CNS. The causes of the disease are not clear. However, many scientists suppose that MS can belong to the class of autoimmune conditions. Therefore, it appears because some cells of the body attack the brain, leading to the disruption of its connection with other body parts. The loss of connection can be mild and severe. MS affects myelin sheath – the protective covering around the nerve fibers in the CNS. When this covering is damaged, the nerve impulses cannot get to other parts of the body. If the damage is slight, the impulses can still be transmitted, but in severe cases, the affected myelin changes to scar tissue and there is no connection between the CNS and the body. Thus, the main effect that multiple sclerosis has on human body is the damage to the myelin, which serves as a disruption in nerve impulses transmission.
The myelin damage is the cause of all symptoms a person with MS can have. Murray, Saunders, and Holland indicate that even though the disease aggravates with time and “uncertainty and unpredictability are characteristics”, the situation improves each year as more ways to diagnose and treat (in this case, it is better to say, slow down the development) are found. Still, a person with MS might expect some most probable effects. Among those, Ratini mentions troubles with moving, double vision, muscle weakness and spasms, pain, memory problems, impaired bladder or bowel control, depression, and sexual problems, though some people might have speech, breathing, and swallowing problems as a result of muscular weakness. Krucik states that every person diagnosed with MS has a different onset and development of the condition. However, some symptoms and effects are common for most individuals with multiple sclerosis. For example, affected bladder and bowel control are typical for at least 8 out of 10 people who have the disease. Therefore, one needs to be aware of the potential effects multiple sclerosis might have on the body of a sick person.
Nervous system, as it was mentioned above, is the first one affected by MS. Since the nerves are damaged, they cannot fully or partially perform their functions, and the following “classic” symptoms occur: memory problems, dizziness, confusion, which can lead to emotion and personality changes. Depression can be either the MS outcome or the result of troubles the person has because of other effects this condition causes. Krucik mentions that sometimes the disease has other more detrimental manifestations such as seizures, tremors, and cognitive problems that are typical for other neurodegenerative disorders, for example, dementia. In case multiple sclerosis develops to such an extent and the patient was not diagnosed with it before these symptoms occur, this person risks to receive inappropriate treatment if the healthcare givers do not make the correct diagnosis.
Vision and hearing are other effects of multiple sclerosis on the human body. May people, suffering from this condition, first start complaining about having problems with vision, before other symptoms occur. These problems include double or blurred vision, pain, distortion of green and red colors differentiation, and some others. Krucik states that most of these effects result from the eye muscles fatigue and can be treated. However, in some cases, these MS outcomes are permanent. Deafness and partial hearing loss sometimes can also be the result of nerve damage that multiple sclerosis causes, but very small number of patients with MS has them.
Mobility is another aspect of human health frequently affected by multiple sclerosis. Costello, Thrower, and Giesser state that multiple sclerosis does not always mean total immobility. In many cases, people with this condition have muscular weakness that stems from poor nerve impulse transmission and results in vision problems, fatigue, pain, and mobility problems. Numbness in legs and arms causes fine motor difficulties and affects balance, so some part of patients requires walking aid, frequent rest or some precaution measures such as handrails, control of activities, travelling in pairs, and others. Some mobility problems might occur due to MS treatment. People on steroids and those with limited physical activity or vitamin D deficiency are prone to developing osteoporosis. The bones become weaker, so fractures and breaks happen more often to patients undergoing multiple sclerosis treatment. Multiple sclerosis can affect not only balance and muscle tone. It also influences sensation, proprioception, strength, and coordination. As a result, MS has a negative impact on mobility.
Multiple sclerosis also has bad influence on sexual activity of people diagnosed with it. Sexual dysfunction becomes apparent through inability or difficulty to arose and experience orgasm. The reason of it is either physiological (damaged nerves cannot transmit the impulses from the brain) or emotional (due to depression). However, appropriate medication or psychological therapy can change the situation. Reproduction is not generally affected by MS, but in case, there is sexual dysfunction that cannot be cured, a person might have some troubles with having children. In contrast, pregnancy can often serve as a reprieve of multiple sclerosis symptoms for pregnant females. Still, some part of women experience a relapse after they give birth, so pregnancy is not a cure for MS.
Kalb, Giesser, and Costello indicate that in addition to physical impacts on human organism, multiple sclerosis has also a strong psychological effect. If people have difficulties with moving around, performing their daily tasks, remembering things, and sometimes recognizing people, they feel a lot of pressure on them as their life has changed significantly and they have to adjust. Trying to cope with their problem, many patients get depressed. The feeling of depression is aggravated when one sees as his/her lovely ones suffer too or feel sorry for what happened. If the attitude to the problem does not change, coping with MS physical manifestations becomes more difficult and deterioration to the organism increases.
To conclude, multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease with unclear causes, which leads to myelin deterioration and consequential problems with nerve impulse transmission. These neurological changes often cause additional physical manifestations such as walking problems, bowel and bladder dysfunction, vision, memory, sexual problems, and, in some cases breathing, speech, and swallowing difficulties. In severe cases, a person might be disabled, though, with the help of treatment, better life can be maintained for substantial period. Since many people all over the world suffer from this condition, which cannot be fully cured and it is not clear why people acquire it, every person should be aware of potential outcomes of MS. Awareness will ensure early treatment to slow down myelin sheath deterioration.