Your MS experience is unique

Everyone experiences multiple sclerosis (MS) a little differently. That's one reason why knowing how to describe the way you feel and having an idea of what to look for in the future is so important. That way you can feel more confident in taking on your MS and planning your future, including working with your healthcare professional to decide what medicine may be right for you.

What is MS?

MS is an autoimmune disease that can affect your life in many ways.

Approximately 2.8 million people worldwide have MS. While there is no known cure, treatment options have expanded over the last decades, and ongoing research continues to address MS, its symptoms, and its causes.

MS affects your central nervous system

MS is an autoimmune disease where your own immune cells attack your central nervous system (CNS). The CNS includes your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Normally, immune cells patrol for signs of infection (such as viruses and bacteria). When they find one, they attack it. Generally, B cells make antibodies that help the immune system recognize the infectious substance, and T cells attack the infectious substance and help control the immune response.

The CNS operates by sending signals through the nerve cells, also called neurons. These neurons help you process and respond to the world around you.

MS impacts the communication between neurons

Myelin is a substance that forms a protective layer over parts of individual neurons in the CNS. This helps neurons send signals rapidly.

In MS, for unknown reasons, immune cells attack myelin, damaging or destroying it and causing inflammation.

When myelin is damaged or destroyed, it becomes harder for neurons to communicate with each other quickly and effectively. The neurons themselves can also be
damaged in MS.

Areas where inflammation has damaged or destroyed myelin are called lesions. Your healthcare professional can often see these lesions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Everyone experiences brain atrophy (also known as brain shrinking) with age. However, the occurrence of lesions in patients with MS speeds up brain atrophy. Brain atrophy appears early in the course of the disease and accelerates with MS progression.

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