What is Multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is an auto-immune disease which affects the central nervous system (CNS), causing communication between the brain and the body to flow poorly and causing side effects such as potential disabilities.


Multiple sclerosis manifests itself through so-called attacks. For reasons unknown, the immune system receives false information and attacks the myelin, a protective cover around your nerve fibres. The thicker the cover, the better your nerves can send impulses and communicate. When the myelin is damaged, the nerves have difficulties sending impulses and this causes interference in the communication between the brain and the body. These damages are called plaques and the symptoms can be anything from sensory disturbances, vision problems, cognitive problems, fatigue or disabilities of varying severity.

Types of MS

There are four types of MS.

  • Relapsing-remitting: Characterized by attacks (so-called relapses), followed by recovery periods (remissions). Symptoms may disappear fully or partially during the recovery period. This is the most common type of MS.

  • Secondary-progressive: For many, this is an eventual transition after being diagnosed with Relapsing-remitting MS. This type is characterized by a more steady progress in symptoms and does not necessarily have remission periods.

  • Primary-progressive: This type resembles the secondary-progressive MS, but does not have it's roots in relapsing-remitting MS. From the starting point, it steadily increases symptoms. There might be temporary, minor improvements; but there are no actual remissions.

  • Progressive-relapsing: This least common type of MS is characterized by a constantly progressing disease with occasional worsening. There is no remission period.

There is no way to analyse how the course of the disease will progress and how it will affect you. You never know if or when you will have a relapse or if you will move into another type of MS. For many patients, this unpredictability is one of the hardest things to cope with.

You could find more information on the Multiple Sclerosis Forum.

Last updated: 29/03/2017

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Author: Carenity Editorial Team, Editorial Team

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