A disease of the central nervous system that
usually first appears between the ages of 20 and 40 and affects
women twice as often as men, MS is the leading cause of disability
among young adults.
Numbness, weakness, tingling or paralysis in one or more limbs,
impaired vision and eye pain, tremor, lack of coordination or
unsteady gait, and rapid involuntary eye movement. A history of at
least two episodes of a cluster of symptoms is necessary for a
diagnosis of MS. Because MS affects the central nervous system,
symptoms may be misdiagnosed as mental illness.
The drug baclofen is used to suppress muscle spasticity, and
corticosteroids help reduce inflammation. Interferons also are
being used to treat this disease.
The disease is degenerative, often with a fluctuating course.
Average life expectancy is 35 years after onset of symptoms. Most
people with MS can function effectively; however, a rare form of
acute MS can be fatal within weeks.
This is a chronic autoimmune disorder
characterized by gradual muscle weakness, often appearing first in
Drooping eyelids, double vision, and difficulty breathing,
talking, chewing, and swallowing.
The drug edrophonium along with daily rest periods can improve
Treatment can induce remission, and people can lead productive
GuillainBarré syndrome is an acute
illness that causes severe nerve damage. Twothirds of all cases
occur after a viral infection.
Tingling in the fingers and toes, general muscle weakness,
difficulty breathing, and, in severe cases, paralysis.
Supportive care until the condition is stabilized, then
rehabilitation therapy combined with whirlpool baths to relieve
pain and facilitate retraining of movements. A process called
plasmapheresis, which removes plasma and nervedamaging
antibodies from the blood, is used during the first few weeks
after a severe attack and may improve the chance of a full
Most patients recover after a period of months, but some permanent
impairment remains in about 10 percent of cases. The mortality
rate is 3 to 4 percent.