Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin, a protective coating that surrounds nerve fibers. As a result, the myelin becomes scarred, which interferes with the way nerve impulses travel to and from the brain. MS is considered an immune-mediated disease, rather than autoimmune disease, because the exact antigen that the immune system attacks is unknown.
Doctors are unsure of exactly what causes MS, but most believe that several different factors are involved. A combination of environmental factors, infectious diseases, and genetic factors are likely at play. For instance, smoking, low levels of vitamin D, and Epstein-Barr virus all increase the risk of developing MS, as does a family history of the disease. Having a combination of these risk factors increases your chances of getting MS even more.
The doctors at Northside Hospital’s Neuroscience Institute can diagnose and treat all types of MS. Get a referral to one of our doctors by calling (888) 598-9586.