Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that is characterized by physical and sensory impairments due to the destruction of white-matter neurons in the brain. This disease is characterized by lesions in time and space meaning that clinical symptoms may occur months or years apart, and different areas (space) in the brain are affected over time. Symptoms include but are not limited to the following:
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Loss of motor movement
- Blindness or vision problems
- Paresthesia (pins and needles)
- Muscle weakness
Due to its autoimmune characteristics, MS is more common in females. The average age of onset in women is 29 years of age. A recent study revealed that individuals with MS are more likely to have other chronic medical diseases such as depression.
A recent study published in the March 9, 2016, online issue of Neurology revealed that there may be shared risk factors for multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases. Additionally, research has revealed that MS may progress more rapidly in patients who have comorbid chronic diseases, solidifying the link between multiple sclerosis and chronic diseases.
“For the study, researchers examined how common several chronic conditions were in 23,382 people with MS at the time of their diagnosis and 116,638 people of the same age and sex without the disease. The conditions included high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, chronic lung disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”
The results showed that the most common chronic condition in patients with MS was depression, but this was more commonly seen in women than in men. A loophole in the study was that most of the participants were of older age and, knowing that MS is usually diagnosed in the late 20s to early 30s, the sample group may have not necessarily reflected the entire MS patient population.
What this could mean
Multiple sclerosis can be a debilitating disease with multiple severe impairments and, if preventing chronic illnesses can potentially prevent multiple sclerosis, the study of this link could be of great importance. Regardless, it is always important to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent chronic conditions.
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About the author
Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a senior staff writer at the Sovereign Health Group and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of medicine. She is a physician and author, who also teaches, practices medicine in the urgent care setting and contributes to medicine board education. She is also an outdoor and dog enthusiast. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.