The disease is not curable, but can be delayed with medication – multiple sclerosis, also known as the "disease with a thousand faces", is one of the most common neurological diseases in young adulthood. But children can also get MS.
MS – What is it??
How MS develops, which symptoms are typical and how the family can deal with the disease, you can read in this article. In addition you get helpful internet addresses around the topic multiple sclerosis in children.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the brain and spinal cord. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune cells are directed against the patient's own nervous system. Nerve fibers and nerve cells are attacked and, in the further course, completely destroyed. Strictly speaking, the nerve cells that form the insulating layer (myelin) of nerve fibers are destroyed. Inflammations develop that leave scars and thus break down the insulating layer.
The symptoms of MS are varied, as inflammation can occur throughout the central nervous system. The symptoms range from strong tingling in the arms and legs to visual and bladder dysfunction as well as paralysis.
Doctors distinguish between three different forms of multiple sclerosis: The most common is relapsing MS, in which the symptoms disappear completely for some time after an acute phase. Between relapses, MS patients are often free of symptoms.
Since the course of the autoimmune disease can vary from person to person, it is also known as the "disease with a thousand faces" denotes. In Germany, around 130.000 people are affected by the autoimmune disease MS, about twice as many of them women as men.
In most cases, the disease begins between 20 and 40 years of age. Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological diseases in young adults. MS is less common in children: 3 to 6 percent develop the disease before the age of 17. and 0.5 percent before the age of 10. In the first year of life. Multiple sclerosis is not curable, but the course of the disease can be slowed down with medication.
Cause of multiple sclerosis
The exact cause of MS is still unclear today. In addition to the faulty reaction of the immune system, it is now amed that there is a hereditary predisposition to MS. In addition, certain infections caused by viruses or bacteria that occur in childhood and adolescence are suspected of promoting MS disease.
Progressive forms of multiple sclerosis
In multiple sclerosis, a distinction is made between three different courses:
– Relapsing MS: About 80 percent of all MS diseases start with this form. Relapses occur at irregular intervals, alternating with phases in which no or only few symptoms occur. In the course of the disease, about half of the MS patients develop a progressive form, the so-called secondary progressive MS. – Secondary progressive MS: This form of multiple sclerosis initially begins with relapses and then progresses to a continuous deterioration. – Primary progressive MS: This rather rare form of progression often occurs in patients over the age of 40. The onset of the disease occurs at the age of. The disease progresses continuously and without relapses.
Symptoms of MS
Even though the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis can progress differently in each person, there are several typical symptoms. As described above, the symptoms of most MS sufferers occur in relapsing attacks. More than one third of MS patients experience sensory disturbances in the arms and legs, such as tingling or numbness. But also strong tiredness, visual and balance disturbances as well as functional disturbances of the bladder and the intestine (z.B. voiding disorders or incontinence) are signs of MS disease.
As the disease progresses, it can lead to more severe movement and coordination disorders as well as speech and swallowing difficulties. In addition, paralysis can develop. Psychological and cognitive complaints also occur: For example, 50% of people with MS suffer from depression, and many sufferers experience memory and concentration problems. In children, this can be manifested by a general sadness. Noticeable through learning difficulties at school.
Therapy for multiple sclerosis
MS is not curable. However, the earlier the disease is detected, the better the chances for a favorable course of the disease. In the case of MS that begins in childhood, the earlier treatment begins, the sooner severe disability can be prevented later. Later paralysis can sometimes be delayed or even avoided altogether if therapy is started in time. In order to slow down the course of the disease and reduce the number of relapses, there are drugs that have to be injected in children. Acute attacks are treated with cortisone to combat inflammation in the nervous system. The various symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis can also be treated with special therapies. In the case of physical symptoms, such as z.B Coordination and speech disorders, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are helpful. In case of psychological and cognitive symptoms, psychotherapy, memory training and relaxation techniques can be useful.
Help for parents: The right way to deal with MS
Because multiple sclerosis is an incurable disease, it is important to deal with this ie appropriately. Since the course of the autoimmune disease differs from person to person, it does not help the family to imagine the future in black.
When their own child develops multiple sclerosis, parents naturally want to protect their child. However, there is a risk that young patients may be overprotected and restricted in their normal development. Parents should therefore try to give their child the necessary freedom and at the same time strengthen their self-confidence.
Local support groups are often very helpful in coping better with the disease and exchanging information with other families. Extensive information is available, for example, from the German Multiple Sclerosis Society (DMSG). If parents and children have great problems dealing with the disease, family therapy or psychotherapy can also help.