What is demyelinating disease?


Quick Answer

A demyelinating disease is a condition such as multiple sclerosis that damages the myelin sheath protecting the nerve fibers in the central nervous system, as stated by Mayo Clinic. This can cause the slowing or complete halting of nerve impulses, leading to neurological symptoms.

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Full Answer

Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system condition in which the immune system attacks the cells that maintain the myelin sheaths or the sheaths themselves, and it is the most common type of demyelinating disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Other demyelinating diseases include transverse myelitis, a swelling of the spinal cord, and optic neuritis, a swelling of the optic nerve. Neuromyelitis optica, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and rare metabolic conditions, such as adrenomyeloneuropathy, are other forms of the illness.

Common symptoms of demyelinating diseases include muscle weakness, loss of vision, loss of sensation, loss of coordination, pain, and muscle stiffness, as listed by Mayo Clinic. Patients may also experience abnormal function of the bowel and bladder. Although demyelinating diseases have no known cure as of 2015, certain medications along with physical therapy may help manage symptoms, minimize attacks, decrease lesion formation and alter the course of the illness. Exact symptoms and treatment options vary depending on the individual and the disease.

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