Your immune system normally protects you by fighting off infection, but in MS it attacks your nerves by mistake. Your nerves control lots of different parts of your body. That’s why you can get MS symptoms in many parts of your body. It’s also why everyone’s MS is different.
Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms. We’re here to help you live well with your MS and fund research to stop MS for good.
Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms.
More than 130,000 people in the UK have MS. In the UK people are most likely to find out they have MS in their thirties, forties and fifties. But the first signs of MS often start years earlier. Many people notice their first symptoms years before they get their diagnosis.
MS affects almost three times as many women as men. Read the latest statistics on MS in the UK.
To understand what happens in multiple sclerosis, it’s useful to understand how the central nervous system works.
A substance called myelin protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system, which helps messages travel quickly and smoothly between the brain and the rest of the body.
In MS, your immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibres, either slightly or completely, leaving scars known as lesions or plaques.
This damage disrupts messages travelling along nerve fibres – they can slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all.
As well as losing the myelin, there can sometimes be damage to the actual nerve fibres too. It’s this nerve damage that causes the increase in disability that can occur over time.
The central nervous system links everything your body does, so multiple sclerosis can cause many different types of symptoms. The specific symptoms that appear depend on which part of your central nervous system has been affected, and the job of the damaged nerve.
Symptoms could be problems with your:
But MS is different for everyone. Read about the first symptoms of MS.
MS has many symptoms, but not everyone will experience all of them.
Some of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:
MS symptoms can come and go and change over time. They can be mild, or more severe.
The symptoms of MS are caused by your immune system attacking the nerves in your brain or spinal cord by mistake. These nerves control lots of different parts of your body. That’s why you can get MS symptoms in many parts of your body, and why everyone’s MS is different.
If you or anyone you know is living with MS you can contact MS Society for further advise and support https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support