Multiple Scleroses1 English II6 Dec. 2003Multiple Scleroses (MS) “is an autoimmune a disease, in which for unknown reasons, the body’s immune system begins to attack normal body tissue.” ( http://www.msfocus.org/info/info_faq.html ) With multiple scleroses the body attacks the cells that make myelin, the insulating material, that surrounds the nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The myelin is lost in multiple areas leaving plaque or scars called scleroses. “The disease is characterized by attacks or "flare-ups," which may be associated with plaques that prevent the conduction of nerve impulses in the central nervous system.”( http://www.msfocus.org/info/info_faq.html ) MS is a terrible disease that affects not only the person infected with the disease, but everyone they know. However modern medications are helping to ease the burden.In the United States, “there are an estimated 350,000cases, and 1.5 million cases worldwide.” (http://www.nmss.org/) Another two hundred cases are diagnosed each week. Multiple sclerosis is not a fatal disease in which the average life expectancy for someone with MS is over ninety percent of an individual’s without MS. “MS is most common in white women, but can affect someone of any ethnicity, or sex.” (http://www.nmss.org/) MS is a complicated disease to diagnose because its signs and symptoms are not specific to multiple sclerosis, that is, they may mimic other diseases. Symptoms may include numbness, 2tingling, visual blurring, and dizziness. Symptoms occur in any combination and can range from mild to severe, and of long duration or short, and may appear in various combinations, depending on the area of the nervous system affected. Not only are physical symptoms prevalent, but cognitive dysfunctions occur as well. The actual diagnosis begins from a discussion between the patient and the physician. A careful medical history is taken; symptoms and signs are assessed, ruling out other ailments. Finally, a MRI must be performed to produce precise and highly detailed pictures of the brain and spinal cord. “The diagnosis is highly dependent on the accuracy of the patient’s medical history and the physician\'s skill in evaluating the gathered information.” (http://www.nmss.org/ ) There are two main types of multiple sclerosis that exist today. Chronic Progressive, also known as Primary Progressive, is classified when a patient has ms and the disease process progresses. The process can range from moderate progression to rapid progression. Normally, progression is so slow that it is hardly noticeable, but in severe cases it can be very rapid. Relapsing-Remitting, the more prevalent type, is that of which a patient has attacks with symptoms over a period of time, but eventually they go away leaving no symptoms. An extension of this is known as Secondary Progressive, which basically means that not all symptoms return to normal. It is also possible to move from one type of MS to another. For example, a Chronic Progressive can change to a Relapsing-Remitting type during the course of the illness, or vice versa. A well-documented medical history is necessary to determine the type of MS one has. Doctors determine a patient’s disability by periodic neurological testing of basic functional systems, such as strength, vision, the sense of touch, and the testing of reflexes and coordination. They also evaluate the person’s ability to care for himself or herself, to walk independently, and to function in daily life. Based in their clinical evaluation, they determine 3whether the patient’s disease is characterized by steady worsening or by periods of recovery. A tool called the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) gauges the extent of a person’s disability by measuring the level of neurological impairment. EDSS scores range from 0 to 10, higher scores indicating a more severe form of disability. Although there is no cure for MS, several medications have been proven to slow the progression of the disease. The three main drugs are Betaseron, Avonex, and Copaxone. Betaseron is injected under the skin every other day. It is known to cause flu-like symptoms, which subside after a short period in most cases. The second drug, Avonex, is an intra-muscular injection given weekly that also causes flu-like symptoms that subside after a short time. The third drug, Copaxone, given daily as an under the skin injection, represents a unique class of therapy. Copaxone is a non-interferon, non-steroidal agent that moderates the course of multiple sclerosis over