Is MS Hereditary
Answering The Question: Is MS Hereditary?
There is one question often associated with multiple sclerosis: Is MS hereditary? In order to answer this, you should first learn how multiple sclerosis works. Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that affects portions of the brain and spinal cord. The body’s immune system literally eats away at the protective coating that surrounds the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. This results in failure for the brain to communicate signals to the rest of the body. What is perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of multiple sclerosis is the fact that nerve damage cannot be repaired.
The Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary quite a lot. The severity and types of symptoms are directly dependent on which nerves are affected by the disease. In the early stages of this disease, the symptoms are likely to crop up for a while and then fade away to provide a period of normality. Eventually the symptoms will come back and as the condition worsens the symptoms are more likely to last longer and increase in intensity. Numbness or weakness is often experienced with this condition. In most cases this is limited to a particular limb, the left or right side of the body, or the top or bottom portion of the body. Rarely does this condition affect the entire body. An individual may also suffer from pain that affects the eyes. The pain is most likely to occur during periods of eye movement and can be accompanied by partial or total loss of vision, double vision, or blurred eyesight.
It is also possible to experience tingling or outright pain in parts of the body (dependent upon which nerves are being affected). Head movement may result in a sensation similar to an electrical shock and one may experience uncontrollable tremors in part or all of their body. It is not uncommon for individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis to have an unsteady gait or appear to have difficulty walking, especially if the nerves that transmit signals to the lower body are damaged. Recurring bouts of dizziness and fatigue are also possible.
Causes and Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis
The basic cause of multiple sclerosis, as mentioned earlier, is that the body’s immune system is so over-reactive that it turns upon itself and attacks its own tissues. The particular tissues under attack are the myelin, which is the protective sheath of the nerves in the brain and spine. Unfortunately, doctors are still puzzled as to why some people have multiple sclerosis and others do not. It is thought that infections occurring during early childhood could be the cause. Those between the ages of 20 and 40 seem to be at a particular risk for MS, as are females and Caucasians. It is also thought that genetics could play a role in one’s risk for acquiring this disease.
Is MS hereditary, though? Many believe that while multiple sclerosis is not hereditary in itself, there are other genetically-transmitted diseases that seem to heighten one’s chances of developing multiple sclerosis. If a relative—particularly a parent or sibling—has MS, then one has a 33 percent greater chance of developing the condition. This may sound quite affirmative to the question “Is MS hereditary?”, however studies between identical twins have shown that a twin is at no greater risk of developing MS (other than the established 33 percent) even if their twin sibling has it. If this condition were solely genetically based, then logically both twins would develop the condition or the unaffected twin would be at a much larger risk. Studies have confirmed that the larger the gap is between bloodlines, the lower one’s chances are of developing multiple sclerosis, such as a grandchild or great-grandchild of someone with MS.
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, however there are treatments to help counter and prevent attacks as well as treat the existing symptoms. If the symptoms are particularly mild then one may not even require any treatment.