From ME Support.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
In common with M.E., we do not yet know the exact causes of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), though research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role in its development. It is not directly inherited and genes are only part of the story. Other factors are also involved – perhaps a bacteria or virus.
We do know that MS is a condition of the central nervous system and the brain and spinal cord. It affects around 100,000 people in the UK.
MS is an autoimmune condition. This means that the immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes its own tissue for a foreign body, such as bacteria, and attacks it. In MS, the immune system attacks the protective layer (called myelin) around nerve fibres. When this myelin is damaged, messages travelling between the central nervous system and the rest of the body can slow down, become distorted, pass from one nerve fibre to another, or not get through at all. As signals are disrupted, so people notice symptoms.
Because the central nervous system links all bodily activities, many different symptoms can appear in MS. Which symptoms appear depends on which part of the central nervous system is affected and the function of the damaged nerve.
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