Doctors and researchers dont have one single definitive answer as to what causes multiple sclerosis (MS). However they do have several theories that seem to apply to the majority of people who suffer from the disease but they do not adequately describe all possibilities. Doctors believe that genetics plays a role as well as environmental factors, your immune system response and even infectious disease.
Environmental Factors of MS
Vitamin D, the vitamin we get from exposure to the sun may play a factor in developing MS. It seems that there is a prominent risk factor in places that are far from the equator where the sun shines all the time. It seems that pollutants in the atmosphere filter out some of the necessary sunlight that is essential for Vitamin D production. People who live in these places are far more likely to be at risk for MS than those people who live near the equator.
Sometimes, it is your own immune system that turns against you, causing multiple sclerosis. Your lymphocytes aka T cells which tell your body what viruses and other infections to fight off, instead attack your own body cells, specifically those in the spinal cord and brain. When these T cells attack your own immune system, the outer coating of the nerves called myelin is damaged.
This damage to the myelin affects how your nerves end up functioning in your body. Often, you end up with a variety of different MS symptoms like sensory problems, tremors, dizziness, prickling pain, vision problem, mental clarity issues and more. There are currently a number of treatments which work to help your body’s immune response from attacking your body.
If you have a relative with multiple sclerosis, your chances of developing the disease increase exponentially. While many doctors agree that genetics plays a small role in MS, there is not enough definitive proof to call it a genetic disease. Instead, it is used to build a health case history and provides a starting point in tracing the diseases origins in your family.
With no previous genetic roots to multiple sclerosis, you have a 0.1% chance of developing the disease whereas if you have an immediate family member like a parent with the disease you have about a 2.5% chance of getting it. The percentage rises if an identical or fraternal twin has the disease.
Viruses are the bad guys to blame in a number of illnesses and doctors believe that they act as a trigger for your T cells to turn against your own nervous system. Bacteria too can be blamed as well. When the body recognizes the bacteria or virus, this infection initially mimics a nerve cell. Once the T-cells kill the infection, they continue looking for that infection that resembles one of your own bodys nerve cells thus triggering an attack on those actual nerve cells instead.
Basically, your own body turns on itself waging a silent war that you cannot hope to win. However, there are many treatments which can slow the progress of the disease or even put it into remission. Each person is different so experimenting with treatments is often needed to hit upon the right one that works for you.