Chronic, progressive disorders of the nervous system like multiple sclerosis need prompt evaluation and treatment by Best Internal Medicine specialist in Lahore to delay further demyelination and deterioration. Read on to know more about the diagnostic criteria of multiple sclerosis and how early diagnosis can benefit such patients:
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy neurons of the brain that are vital for everyday functioning. Consequently, the protective coverings or neuronal sheaths are damaged, impacting brain and spinal cord functioning.
It is still unknown why the immune cells attack self. In the beginning, the disease is often mild, but in the long run, the severity progresses.
How to make early diagnosis of MS?
MS presents mostly with unpredictable symptoms that vary in intensity. Often, it presents with: visual problems, weakness or fatigue, diminished brain function, paralysis, pain and spasms, dizziness and bladder issues. The symptoms of MS come and go, especially early on in the course of disease and the patient often dismisses these symptoms. Soon, there is worsening of symptoms and the healthcare provider needs to thoroughly examine the patient to make the diagnosis or rule out other causes.
Diagnosis of MS is based on a detailed history, and examination of the patient, along with the relevant investigations. Blood tests are done to help rule out other diseases that can cause similar symptoms. There is no specific blood test for MS, but ruling out other diseases helps to strengthen the diagnosis of MS.
Imaging techniques like MRI of the brain and spinal cord can detect regions of demyelination. MRI with contrast injected into the veins helps to highlight regions in the brain actively affected by disease.
Additionally, an ophthalmologist can use an optical coherence tomography (OCT) to determine if the optic nerve is affected by MS.
The diagnosis is supported by findings of the lumbar puncture in which small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is taken from the spinal cord. In MS, there are antibodies present in the CSF that are diagnostic for MS.
Tests like evoked potential record the electric signals produced by the brain in response to stimulus. By checking how quickly information is traveling down the nerve pathways, impact of MS can be calculated.
What are the benefits of early diagnosis of MS?
As of 2010, the diagnostic criterion of MS has changed, pushing for early diagnosis so that disease modifying drugs can be started on the first sign of disease. If both of the following are true, then therapy is started immediately: lasting of MS symptoms for at least 24 hours and MRI changes in the brain.
According to research, early therapy of MS can cut down on the acute attacks and relapse incidents of MS. Moreover, early diagnosis and treatment can ensure there is no disability—at least in the short term—in comparison to people who don’t start medication immediately.
However, researchers are not sure yet, what the long-term consequences of early diagnosis and therapy will be and how much impact it will have on preventing severe disability.
The goal of therapy in MS is to prevent the attack on the brain and spinal cord. If lesions are prevented from forming in the first place, disability can be delayed and even prevented. This is why prompt examination by Best Internal Medicine Specialist in Islamabad is mandatory in case someone experiences suspicious symptoms as listed above.