Dr. Parth Bansal

Dr.Parth Bansal

What is Demyelination, What are its Types and How to Treat Them

What is Demyelination:

A demyelinating disease is any condition that causes damage to the protective covering (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve fibers in your brain, the nerves leading to the eyes (optic nerves) and spinal cord. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow or even stop, causing neurological problems

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common demyelinating disease of the central nervous system.

In this disorder, your immune system attacks the myelin sheath or the cells that produce and maintain it.

This attack causes inflammation and injury to the nerve sheath and ultimately to the nerve fibers that it surrounds. The process can result in multiple areas of scarring (sclerosis).

Other types of demyelinating disease and their causes include:

  • Optic neuritis — inflammation of the optic nerve in one or both eyes
  • Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) — inflammation and demyelination of the central nervous system, especially of the optic nerve and spinal cord
  • Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease (MOGAD) — inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system, predominantly of the optic nerve and spinal cord.
  • Transverse myelitis — inflammation of the spinal cord
  • Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis — inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

What is the cause of demyelination?

In many cases, doctors aren’t sure what causes these conditions. They know that some result from:

  • Inflammation from an immune response that goes awry and causes your body to attack its own tissues; you may hear this called an autoimmune condition.
  • Your genes
  • Damage to blood vessels in your brain
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • A virus

Common symptoms of a demyelinating disease:

  • Vision loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Loss of coordination
  • Change in sensation
  • Walking problems
  • Changes in bladder and bowel function

What are the treatment options available for Demyelinating diseases?

  1. Treatment is now available that appears to reduce the risk of flares and slow the progression of MS for some people.
  2. During a time of relapse (when symptoms worsen), steroid treatment can reduce the impact of inflammation.
  3. Current guidelines recommend that doctors prescribe one of several disease-modifying therapies (DMT) starting at diagnosis because early treatment can help improve long-term outcomes.
  • DMT for MS helps reduce excessive immune system activity.
  1. Various medications, including antidepressants and pain relief medications, can help treat specific symptoms. 
  2. Physical therapy can help with muscle strength and problems with coordination and balance.

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