Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks your central nervous system, has the capability of causing a variety of symptoms. This disease can, over time, impair a person depending on its severity. Commonly striking more women than men, this disease attacks bodily components and treats them as if they were abnormal. Multiple sclerosis is not that uncommon and affects a likelihood of over 1 million people worldwide. The first symptoms generally make themselves known between the ages of 20 years old and 40 years old.
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary in severity and a person may exhibit any of the following: pain in various parts of the body, visual disturbances, numbness or muscle weakness in your extremities, dizziness, lethargy, unsteadiness, speech difficulties, a stiffening of the muscles, sexual dysfunction, bowel or bladder dysfunction, and/or mental status changes.
There are many drugs that are used to treat multiple sclerosis. These would include:
Natalizumab, also known as Tysabri: this medication is injected through IV and given once a month. It works on the brain’s nerve cells to cut back on the inflammatory process of the immune cells. This drug accomplishes the task by blocking immune cell attachment to the blood vessels of the brain.
Beta interferons (Betaseron, Avonex, Rebif): These are all replicas of proteins that we normally have in our bodies. These proteins work in our bodies as a defense against viral infections. They also keep our immune system in good working order. All three of these drugs are injectable and each one is given at least once weekly (Avonex) with one being given every other day (Betaseron). Rebif is injected three times weekly. The usage of these drugs will help to squelch the episodes of multiple sclerosis, but will not eliminate them. It is noted that these drugs cannot be used together. Side effects of these drugs are harsh and some with multiple sclerosis find them intolerable. These drugs tend to plague their users with flu-like symptoms.
Glatiramer (Copaxone): This multiple sclerosis drug is used in place of beta interferons. It is injected on a daily basis and may give its user symptoms of diminished breathing and/or flushing.
Mitoxantrone (Novantrone): This drug is typically used in cancer patients. It is a form of chemotherapy and also injectable every few months. This drug is used mainly in severe forms of multiple sclerosis, as it causes harsh side effects. Cyclophosphamide or Cytoxan is another chemotherapy medication.
Other multiple sclerosis drugs that are used are muscle relaxants, drugs to help with complaints of lethargy, and/or corticosteroids.
Although there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, the symptoms can be lessened through the use of these medications. Make sure to keep all appointments with your doctor and continue to work with him or her to obtain the best management for your disease.
MayoClinic: Multiple sclerosis
National Multiple sclerosis Society: medications used in MS
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Treatment for MS
Drugs.com: Multiple Sclerosis Medications