Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the leading causes of disability in young adults.
Expert neurologist Dr Dion Opperman explains that MS is an autoimmune disorder, which means the body attacks itself.
The most high-risk groups are typically white people, women and those between ages 18 and 40.
It is a demyelinating disease, attacking the myelin ( a sheath that covers covers of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord).
The damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate.
While there is no cure for MS, different kinds of MS can be treated.
You get different types of MS, if you have relapsing-remitting, there are multiple options for treatment and we can alter the course of the disease.— Dr Dion Opperman, neurologist
The four types of MS are:
- Relapsing-Remitting MS
- Secondary-Progressive MS
- Primary-Progressive MS
- Progressive-Relapsing MS
MS can have the various symptoms, including:
- double vision
- blindness in one eye
- muscle weakness
- loss of sensation
- trouble with co-ordination
- slurred speech
- bladder incontinence
Aside from physical symptoms, MS can also have mental and psychiatric effects.
It can attack any part of the brain. It can change your personality, affect your memory, emotions - anything that affects your brain.— Dr Dion Opperman, neurologist
There are no concrete statistics on MS patients in South Africa and researchers are still trying to determine what causes the condition, Opperman explains.
He advises that genetic and environmental factors may play a role in predisposition.
Take a listen to Dr. Opperman unpack MS and answer questions from callers: