José López Castro, member of the Galician Society of Internal Medicine (Sogami).
The multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord, according to Jose Lopez Castromember of the Galician Society of Internal Medicine (Sogami). This ailment occurs between two and three times more frequently in women than in men and is the second leading cause of disability in youthafter traffic accidents, as highlighted by the medical society in a press release.
In this disease, they add, the cells of the immune system, in charge of protecting against infections caused by external microorganisms, react erroneously against the body’s own structures, specifically against the myelinthus preventing its proper functioning.
They also detail that myelin (‘the insulating cover’) is responsible for facilitating the correct transmission of these nerve impulses. “It would be like the plastic or insulating cover of the cable (axon) allowing proper motor and sensory functioning, among other functions. When myelin is destroyed, hardened scar-like areas (called lesions or plaques) appear at different times and in multiple locations in the brain and spinal cord, and hence its name: multiple sclerosis (scar)”, explains López Castro.
When a patient is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they should know that the symptoms will vary depending on the areas where the lesions occur, emphasizes the medical society. “For this reason, although different people share the same diagnosis, the disease and its evolution will be different in each one. It should be said that the vast majority of lesions are asymptomatic”, says López Castro. “In general, the symptomatic disease evolves in outbreaks of different severity,” he adds.
Diagnose in small hospitals
Since MS is a disease that can present with various clinical forms and many of them acute, the role of the internist is “key” in their diagnosis, remarks the Galician Society of Internal Medicine.
In addition, he points out that in small hospitals where there is no neurology hospitalization, patients are diagnosed on the Internal Medicine. Chronic treatment, however, must be carried out “always in a neurology clinic”, where there are specialized MS units.
Lines of investigation
“We still do not have a treatment that cures MS, but the latest advances in research have provided a substantial change in the approach to the symptoms and their progression”, comments López Castro.
Currently, research is based on 5 pillars. In genetic research, the genetic factors that predispose to MS are being studied. “Although it is not a hereditary disease, we know that there may be a genetic predisposition to suffer from it,” says the medical society.
On the other hand, there is the immunological researchwhich focuses on studying the ability of immune cells to pass from the blood vessels to the central nervous system, as it appears to be impaired in people with MS.
The neurobiological research It is another of the branches for which the evidence is expanding. This branch evaluates the processes that can regenerate myelin and stop the degenerative process of MS.
On the other hand, the epidemiological investigation collects population data and analyzes them to detect differences between people who have the disease.
Lastly, the environmental research studies sun exposure, vitamin D, the incidence of certain viruses at certain times of life or smoking as possible factors that could trigger multiple sclerosis.
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