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Wednesday

 

Understanding the Science Behind MS Relapses

















































Medical professionals have been studying multiple sclerosis (MS) for many years, but the condition is still something of a mystery. We know that MS is an autoimmune disease. We also know that MS causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the myelin sheaths that surround and insulate the nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS). This causes interruptions in nerve signals that are responsible for many of the symptoms of the disease.

However, we don’t know what causes these mistaken immune system attacks. We also aren’t sure what leads to MS relapses. A true relapse — also called an exacerbation, flare-up, or attack — lasts at least 24 hours. It involves the development of new symptoms, or the reappearance of old symptoms after a remission of 30+ days. Relapses are characteristic of the most common form of MS, called relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).

Typically, symptoms of RRMS will worsen over time as the cycle of relapses and remissions continues.

Today, relapsing forms of MS are treated with “disease modifying therapies” (DMTs). Most are given by injection, though others can be taken orally. Some are delivered intravenously. Ideally, an effective DMT prevents relapses.

People with RRMS usually take these medications on a regular basis. Even so, many patients eventually experience further relapses. Doctors may prescribe temporary relapse treatments to help shorten the relapse period or make symptoms less intense.

If a doctor determines that the condition is progressing, or discovers new lesions on a patient’s MRI, they may recommend changing medications entirely.

Recent research suggests that MS relapses may be related to changes in seasons throughout the year. During spring and summer, people tend to spend more time in the sun. This means they’re exposed to lots of vitamin D, an essential component of healthy immune system function. Theoretically, insufficient levels of vitamin D could cause the immune system to malfunction, leading to relapse. Another theory suggests that changes in light-sensitive melatonin levels may also play a role in triggering MS relapses. This may also be connected to a common symptom experienced by MS patients: heat sensitivity. However, it’s not yet clear how vitamin D or melatonin may interact to promote or prevent relapses, if at all.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by HEALTHLINE
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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