Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by the destruction of the myelin sheath surrounding neurons, resulting in the formation of “plaques.” MS is a progressive and usually fluctuating disease with exacerbations (patients feeling worse) and remissions (patients feeling better) over many decades. Eventually, in most patients, remissions do not reach baseline levels and permanent disability and sometimes death occurs. The cause of MS is unknown. The most widely held hypothesis is that MS occurs in patients with a genetic susceptibility and that some environmental factors “trigger” exacerbations. MS is 3 times more common in women than men, with diagnosis usually made as young adults. Also see demyelinating disorders.
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