Specter multiple sclerosis: Early diagnosis ensures a high quality of life
Diverse and unpredictable: Multiple sclerosis, or MS for short, is one of the most common chronic inflammatory nerve diseases and usually breaks out in young adulthood. Around 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from the multifaceted disease, of which around 70 percent are women. The inflammation causes a wide variety of symptoms, which often appear relapsing - i.e. at intervals - and subsequently cause physical restrictions.
"Although MS is still considered to be incurable, modern diagnoses and therapies can be used to delay the relapses and slow further progress," says radprax Münster, specialist for radiology and neuroradiology. The expert explains what the first signs of the affected person should be and what the individual therapy steps look like.
As a rule, the first signs of MS appear between the ages of 20 and 40. Although there are no clear triggers for multiple sclerosis, hereditary factors and environmental factors may promote immune system dysregulation. Sudden inflammatory foci attack the central nervous system and prevent the transmission of important nerve stimuli, which are responsible for movement and vision.
“For example, those affected have the feeling that they are looking through a frosted glass pane, or there are feelings in the arms or legs. Lack of strength when walking or standing, as well as an indistinct or blurred pronunciation, can indicate chronic nerve inflammation, ”says Dr. Failing. However, the symptoms vary from patient to patient and sometimes disappear for several weeks, so experts also speak of a "disease with many faces".
Insightful investigation method
Especially suspicion of MS triggers insecurity with fear of possible consequences. In order to make a quick and reliable diagnosis, the doctor first takes a comprehensive medical history, i.e. documents the symptoms. This is followed by detailed neurological examinations, for example with the aid of imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI for short.
"The low-radiation and high-resolution diagnostic device provides information about typical inflammation centers in the brain and spinal cord, so that multiple sclerosis can be recognized at an early stage," explains the radprax expert.
Effective therapy options
The treatment of MS patients focuses on preventing flare-ups and slowing down further progress. Depending on the type and severity, medications that affect the immune system are primarily used for this. Especially in the early stages, even if there are no symptoms, the therapy consists of close MRI examinations and drug treatment.
“In the event of an acute episode of illness, the person concerned usually receives a high-dose cortisone infusion for three to five days. This curbs inflammatory reactions and allows the symptoms to subside quickly, ”says Dr. Due to the unpredictable course of the disease and the associated burden on those affected and relatives, open communication with the treating doctor is an important prerequisite for getting a realistic picture of the disease. Although multiple sclerosis means a deep cut in life, the quality of life of those affected can be maintained for a relatively long time with the help of modern therapeutic measures. (sb, pm)