Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease and both genetic and environmental factor plays a role in the progression of the disease.
Do Genes Have A Role To Play In Multiple Sclerosis? What Science Says?
While some conditions are exclusively influenced by genetics meaning, an individual with the variants of the genes will develop the ailment, multiple sclerosis is different in that way.
Recent researches have shown that certain genes influence the disease to run in families and cause its development in individuals at a later stage.
What defines multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system of the individual reacts against healthy self-tissues.
As the condition progresses, the protective covering of the nerve, myelin is also attacked by the faulty immune system.
This causes the death of the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord of the individual, which eventually leads to the degeneration of the nervous system.
The clinical symptoms of the disease vary from one person to another.
To some individuals, it can be general weakness or mobility issues, while others may experience pain, tremors, or difficulty in maintaining balance.
The more prominent symptoms of the disease are associated with severe damage to the nervous system at the advanced stage.
These include depression or anxiety, difficulty in remembering things, vertigo, difficulty in mobility, changes in visionary or hearing abilities, and ringing sensation in the ears.
How much of it is attributable to genetics?
Identification of any one particular gene or a group of genes that causes multiple sclerosis has not been achieved.
Researchers have rather found a few genes that only increase the probability of the disease in an individual.
It can also develop as a collateral symptom to some other condition if the genes of multiple sclerosis are present in the person.
Although 200 genes have been identified who can prompt the disease in the presence of specific environmental conditions.
A study has shown that if one twin develops the condition the other one is likely to develop it too.
However in the case of twins, since in childhood the environmental factor remains similar, the development of the disease can be attributed to both genetic and environmental factors.
Are there any other factors responsible?
Multiple sclerosis is likely to develop in an individual as a result of the combined effects of genes and the environment.
Effects of certain toxins or deficiency of vital nutrients and vitamins can also contribute to the development of the disease.
The genes for multiple sclerosis may further get activated owing to some ailments or injuries.
Some well-proven factors inducing the development of multiple sclerosis include infections like Epstein Barr virus, smoking, obesity and specifically childhood obesity, deficiency of vitamins like vitamin D, or an alteration of diet, causing a change in gut microbe profile.
Options for diagnoses and treatment.
Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed by running blood tests, assessments of the brain and the spinal cord, and after ruling out other probable contributing factors.
Some of the popular treatment options include disease-modifying drugs, aimed at slowing down the progression of the disease.
Then there are pain medicines and psychological medications to control the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Physical therapies often alleviate the pain and discomfort and help the individual gain some strength.
What can we remember in the long run?
It is important to note for the immediate caregivers and family members of the patients that, multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease, it does not have any cure.
Medications can help in slowing down the advancement of the disease and manage the symptoms to improve the quality of life for the patient and the people around him.
Further extensive research and analysis are required to know more about the cause, progression, and treatment of the disease.