multiple sclerosis

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(MS, disseminated sclerosis) a chronic disease of the nervous system affecting young and middle-aged adults. The myelin sheaths surrounding nerves in the brain and spinal cord are damaged, which affects the function of the nerves involved. The course of the illness is usually characterized by recurrent relapses followed by remissions, but a proportion of patients run a chronic progressive course. The disease affects different parts of the brain and spinal cord, resulting in typically scattered symptoms. These include unsteady gait and shaky movements of the limbs (ataxia), abnormal eye movements (e.g. nystagmus and internuclear ophthalmoplegia), defects in speech pronunciation (dysarthria), spastic weakness, and retrobulbar neuritis. The underlying cause of the nerve damage remains unknown, but an autoimmune process may be involved. Steroid treatment may be used in an acute relapses. Interferon beta and glatiramer acetate given by regular self-administered injections reduce the relapse rate by 30% in some patients. Newer monoclonal antibody treatments are also available.

http://www.mssociety.org.uk/ Website of the Multiple Sclerosis Society

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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