The spinal cord carries messages to the brain, and then it transmits the responses. These nerves are covered with a myelin sheath. This sheath helps insulate the nerves and conduct electrical impulses. If the sheath starts to deteriorate, the nerves can no longer send electrical impulses to the brain. In cases of multiple areas, scar tissue forms and even further destroys the message sending system.
The exact circumstance that causes Multiple Sclerosis is not known. Some researchers think the immune system takes over when the myelin sheath starts to deteriorate. This is a case of the body attacking its own self. It may be from something in the genetic makeup or even an exposure to a virus or bacterium that caused the immune system to attack.
Signs and symptoms are important to watch for when trying to diagnose a patient. Taking a complete history and performing a complete physical will get you started. Common signs that normally show up on exam are weakness in extremities, altered reflexes, speech problems, and unsteady movement. A physical exam may reveal that there is damage to the optic nerve, touching the body all over with a needle or feather to see what skin sensation remains, reflex problems, and no muscle strength.
Most people who develop this illness are between the ages of 20 and 50. It is not something you catch if someone breathes or coughs on you. Some of the flareups are quite horrendous and some don't last very long. Multiple Sclerosis is very nerve wracking especially to kids because they want to get up and go. If the illness flares up, they will have to rest for a couple of days in hopes that it will go back to submission. Some kids can go along with the different lifestyle that Multiple Sclerosis creates. Some kids fight it the whole way.
Either way, you need to talk to your child about what they are feeling and let them know they are not alone in this situation. Help them vent their anger and frustration out in productive ways. Maybe they could buy a new video game or go outside and walk around the block if possible. Running, coloring, drawing, crafts, using a punching bag, raking leaves – anything that will help them release pent up emotions is always good.
If a family vacation has to be canceled, please make sure the child knows it is not because of them. These kids already blame themselves for everything. If there are other kids in the family, make a schedule of chores, so the child with Multiple Sclerosis feels like he is contributing as well. The most important thing to remember is don't lie to the child about their condition. Kids have a way of knowing that something is wrong and will go looking for answers if you don't or won't explain the situation to them. Let them make some choices along the way. Let them choose tonight's TV program or movie. It all helps them to feel like part of the family.
Several drugs on the forefront can help battle Multiple Sclerosis. These are Interferon, Novantrone, Tysabri, and Copaxone. These drugs can also cause side effects, so make sure you follow the dosage instructions given by the doctor. Interferon helps with regulating the immune system. Novantrone is a medicine that is quite effective, but cardiac toxicity is a problem. Tysabri is a drug that can be used alone or in conjunction with other medicines. Methylprednisolone is a steroid that can be given in higher doses and helps to end the Multiple Sclerosis attack sooner and eliminate any lasting side effects from the attack.