Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. There are aspects of the disease that can be frightening, because it can appear at a young age and show a severe course, including the need for care later on. At the same time it is a disease with a very broad spectrum. Often a normal life is possible despite the disease. Neurologist Professor Dr. Hemmer talks about the causes, symptoms and options for patients.
What is the incidence for multiple sclerosis??
MS is now a very common disease: in Bavaria, for example, about one in 300 women will develop MS in their lifetime, and in Germany an estimated 220.000 to 250.000 people Multiple Sclerosis. Studies also indicate that the incidence will continue to rise in the coming years. This may be due to changes in our lifestyle. Also the much improved diagnostics: multiple sclerosis is now detected much earlier as well as in milder forms.
How multiple sclerosis develops?
Many questions are still open, the causes not yet fully understood. However, it is known that two factors are of particular importance. This is on the one hand hereditary predisposition, which increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis – as with other diseases, for example diabetes or cancer.
On the other hand there are Environmental factors, that can add to the hereditary burden and thus lead to the onset of the disease. These are smoking, certain infections such as the Eppstein-Barr virus infection, a lack of vitamin D and also obesity. There is still a lot of research to be done in this field. Very likely, however, there is also a major Random factor, which in the end decides whether someone with a corresponding risk will also develop the disease.
There is nothing that can be done about the genetic predisposition. However, it is possible to target environmental factors to reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.