What you should know about multiple sclerosis brain lesions
Multiple sclerosis brain lesions are the spots created in the brain due to an immunological attack, which makes the tissues surrounding the brain abnormal, thereby affecting its functioning. It happens when the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks the protein myelin (the one protecting nerve endings from damage). The immune system starts deteriorating the nervous system, resulting in the occurrence of such lesions. Multiple sclerosis brain lesions are caused when many such spots are created in the brain not simultaneously but after a considerable period of time has elapsed. They may or may not be life-threatening depending on the severity of the situation.
The multiple sclerosis brain lesions are usually called scars or plaques. These can occur and pop in different areas of the brain. The multiple sclerosis brain lesions usually occur on the optic nerves, spinal cords, and on the brain stem or the cerebellum.
What are the possible causes of multiple sclerosis brain lesions?
Multiple sclerosis brain lesions are mainly caused by the attack of the immune system on the central nervous system which damages the nerves in the brain. However, in some cases, they can be caused due to deep trauma. Other possible causes include:
- A brain tumor
- Another autoimmune disease
- Cerebral palsy
The possible nature of the multiple sclerosis brain lesions can be traumatic, malignant, benign and genetic, vascular, plaques or brain cell death causing.
To what extent do they affect daily activities?
Multiple sclerosis brain lesions do affect the normal functioning of the body, and the symptoms may be observed after a while.
- It affects the cognitive and emotional functioning of the body.
- Patients who suffer from relapsing (recurrent) brain lesions show adverse changes in personality.
- It is found to be more common in women than in men, i.e., women are more likely to get affected by this.
- The disease cannot spread through physical contact; therefore there is no need of maintaining a ‘safe distance’ from the affected person.
- If the cases worsen, some forms of disabilities are also observed in the patients.
How is it diagnosed?
The multiple sclerosis brain lesions are observed with the help of Magnetic Resonating Image (MRI) and CT scan to determine the exact location, size, and nature of the lesion/s. It helps in studying the characteristics of the lesion and for how long it has been present. Other lab tests like blood tests may also be suggested to understand the nature of the multiple sclerosis brain lesions. Gadolinium, a contrast agent makes it easier to detect the multiple sclerosis brain lesions. According to a study conducted by a researcher suggests that to be sure of the condition, the diagnosis should support the following statements:
- Damage should be found in at least two different areas of the central nervous system.
- Damage observed should be recorded at two different times, meaning if one lesion is observed, other should be have been recorded a month after.
- All the other diagnosis should be ruled out.
General symptoms include a recurring headache, nausea, fever, frequent headache, severe neck pain, affected vision, change or loss of the sense of smell in some cases, speech impairment, weakness and paralysis, confusion, sudden aggression. Cases where any of these symptoms are observed, one must immediately schedule a visit to the doctor.
Even if it is diagnosed, further processes of diagnoses can help in improving the quality of the treatment.
How can this be treated?
Treatment of multiple sclerosis brain lesions is specific to the cause. However, they can be prevented by taking the following precautions:
- Avoid smoking.
- Keep blood pressure under control.
- Avoid stepping out in the sun too much and if necessary, keep your head covered.
The general treatment includes surgical removal of lesions if they seem to be spreading. Doctors might suggest chemotherapy if the lesions are found to be cancerous.
Medicines are prescribed which are generally antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs that can help in fighting the infection. Other therapies are suggested on the basis of the location, size, and severity and the nature of the lesions.
Are they completely curable?
There is no universal answer to this question because in some cases, they heal completely but reappear after some time. Though generally, the cells of the brain once affected may heal slowly or not at all. So the only thing that can be done to prevent this disease is to lead a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically, and do not delay visiting a doctor if any symptoms are observed.
Brain lesions are observed in many forms, and treatment, as well as diagnosis, can be time-consuming. Doctors have a certain set of questions to find out the reason for their occurrence, so it is advised to consult one immediately and not treat them without the supervision of an expert. Proper medical care should be provided to the patient as soon as the symptoms appear.