Multiple Sclerosis, which goes by many different names including encephalomyleitis disseminata, disseminated sclerosis, or simply MS, is an auto immune inflammatory disease that affects the normal functions of the brain and the spinal cord. It was the eminent scientist Jean Martin Charcot who described this condition for the very first time in 1868.
People between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to be affected by this condition. There are numerous factors which can bring about this condition. Some of the contributory factors which can bring about multiple sclerosis have been identified in this article.
Common Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
Sometimes, the immune system attacks healthy cells of the body including the nervous system for no apparent reason. This is called an autoimmune reaction. When the immune system of the body launches an attack against healthy body cells, it gives rise to inflammation. Severe inflammation of the nervous system can damage the myelin sheath which envelops the nerve cells. This in turn can cause MS.
When the myelin sheath which envelops the nerve cells are damaged, it can significantly decelerate the speed at which nerve signals are being sent out and received by the brain. In severe cases nerve signal transfer may cease completely.
MS or multiple sclerosis cannot be categorized as a hereditary disease. However, medical researchers have discovered that children born to one or both parents suffering from this condition have a higher chance of developing multiple sclerosis in their lifetime.
Certain gene or group of genes can affect the way a person’s immune system reacts to certain environmental factors. This in turn can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
Environmental factors also play a significant role in determining individual’s chances of developing this disease condition. People who live farther away from the equator have a higher chance of developing multiple sclerosis.
People who live in the cold northern climes get very little sun exposure. Reduced exposure to sunlight can lead to a deficiency of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D can affect the normal functioning of the immune system. When the immune system is affected by a vitamin D deficiency, it can give rise to numerous health problems including multiple sclerosis. Similarly people who live in highly polluted areas where they are constantly exposed to industrial toxins have a higher risk of developing this condition.
An autoimmune reaction which damages the myelin sheath which encases the nerve cells may be triggered by a bacterial or viral infection. Medical researchers have been able to establish a positive link between microbial attack and multiple sclerosis.
The bacteria and the viruses which bring about infection mimic nerve cells. The immune system of the body launches an attack against these disease causing pathogens which resemble nerve cells.
However, after the infectious agents are destroyed, the immune system continues to attack the nerve cells because of their similarity to the disease causing pathogens. This erroneous attack launched by the immune system against healthy nerve cells can cause multiple sclerosis in otherwise healthy adults. These are just some of the causative factors which are thought to bring about multiple sclerosis.