MS as an important illness in society.

Hi guys, Jarred back again for another blog post! First, only yesterday I went on a short work experience placement at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where I visited the PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) and shadowed a nurse on duty. Whilst there, I observed the patient case of a 30 week old baby with a precious airway who was therefore intubated- many times during my visit the baby ‘Bradyed’ in which his heartbeat dropped very low very quickly before coming back up! Now, this was not necessarily due to his condition be was agitated by it so that every time he was disturbed these moments occurred. The baby will hopefully grow stronger and get better, but the chance he has problems breathing when he is older is very high! In addition to visiting this, multiple Doctors came in during the time, and I had many chats with them about their jobs, what they do and what skills they need and use. This visit was very beneficial to me, as it provided me with another insight into a Nurse’s everyday life – thus that of a NHS Healthcare worker – and also allowed me to acknowledge and understand where to improve myself in order to have the right skills and qualities needed by a Doctor according to one.

Now, the main topic of today’s blog is to be MS – also known as Multiple Sclerosis. Firstly, Multiple Sclerosis is defined as,’ a condition which can affect the brain and/or the spinal cord.’ From this we know that MS affects the nerves (as these are the components of the spinal cord and brain) and obviously does something to them that affects their function. Now, the symptoms of MS are varied by person, but I believe they can be split into physical and mental: the physical problems occurring are vision problems, fatigue, shaking, numbness and muscle stiffness, whilst the mental include problems with balance, coordination and thinking. Now these symptoms are quite clearly debilitating, and they effect a huge number of people with statistics saying that 400,000 people in Britain are sufferers whilst 2.1 million world wide are too! Now, the scientists and doctors who have researched MS are actually still in the dark about what causes it. They have many hypotheses of why it happens, with the major one being that MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and damages the mylon sheath (outside of the nerve cells) of the nerve cell, and potentially damages the nerve underneath- this causes the electrical impulses to either be slowed down, delayed or not sent, hence causing the symptoms of MS. But, as I said before, the doctors and researchers do not know why the immune system does this although much time and effort has been put into researching it.

Treatment for MS is available for the patients, however, the premise of it is to help alleviate the problem and to give them a better quality of life, as at the current moment, there is no cure available (possibly due to the fact that they do not fully understand MS yet). Now, a big part of coping with MS is learning how to live with it as part of your life, so it is integral that the patient keeps up a good self-care scheme. They should also make lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, eating a more healthy and balanced diet and also integrating in regular health check-ups! But, treatments that are available vary hugely in their methods, with the newest and most important being DMTs (disease modifying therapies) including Ocrelizumab. Now DMTs act as relapse preventives as they reduce the frequency of them with Ocrelizumab being stated to – by phase 3 – reduce relapses by 47% and also reduce the number of brain lesions. Thus, this makes it a very important and useful drug in treating MS. However, there are quite a few other new treatments being tested/approved, such as: Laquinimod (which prevents immune cells from reaching the brain), AHSCT (which involves rebooting the immune system-using extremely risky chemotherapy), MD1003 (which hopefully stimulates creation of myelin producing cells) and Siponimod (prevents T and B immune cells from reaching the brain).

As you can see, MS is clearly a big center for research within the scientific community, and for obvious reasons. Currently, clinical trials are a big part of the research being done, so I would recommend watching out for developments within these clinical trials for MS as they have a large capability to either be the route towards a cure, life-saving treatment or life-improving ones.

I hope you have all enjoyed my blog post today – sorry it’s shorter than usual – but I hope I have inspired and informed you to be more aware about MS and will leave you with a quote from patients which will hopefully help raise awareness of MS, “MS symptoms are mostly felt not seen. I might look good, but my body is throwing a fit inside.”
Thanks everybody, Jarred.

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