When you learn that a family member has multiple sclerosis (MS), it’s natural to wonder how they got it. You may worry that you or other family members could get the disease, too. In addition, learning more about the disease your aging relative suffers from is an important part of being an effective family caregiver.
Potential Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
Doctors don’t yet know exactly what causes a person to develop MS. They do know that it is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. In the case of MS, it attacks the nerves, destroying their protective coating. Although experts don’t know for certain the cause of the disease, scientists think it may be the result of a combination of factors. Factors that may lead to the development of MS include:
- Immune System: Researchers have determined that people with MS have certain immune cells that target their central nervous system.
- Environment: Studies show that people in certain geographical areas are at greater risk for getting MS. What’s more, scientists have discovered that when a person moves from region to another their risk of getting MS changes. It seems that the farther a person lives from the equator, the greater their chances of having MS. This suggests that vitamin D may play a role since areas distant from the equator don’t get as much sunlight.
- Viruses: There are viruses that damage the nerves in a manner similar to MS. Researchers think that certain viruses may trigger MS because they resemble nerve cells, which confuses the immune system. Several different viruses are being examined as potential factors for MS, including the Epstein-Barr virus, human herpes virus-6, and measles.
- Genetics: MS is not considered a hereditary disease, but there is a genetic risk factor involved. For example, if one identical twin develops MS, it increases the risk of their twin getting it to about 1 in 4. Having a close relative, like a sibling or parent, with MS increases the chances of getting it, but only slightly.
If your aging relative has MS, elderly care can assist with their care. Elderly care providers can help them to accomplish household tasks during MS flare-ups that make them difficult. Elderly care providers can clean the house, wash and dry dishes, do the laundry, and cook meals. Elderly care providers can also offer transportation to stores, medical appointments, or social gatherings.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering in-home elderly care in Raleigh, NC, please contact the caring staff at Affordable Family Care. Serving Raleigh, Greensboro, and the surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call today 919-676-1070