Glossary items

Glossary
Anxiety

Persistent worry about major or minor concerns that interferes with daily activities, such as work, school or sleep. Anxiety can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, but can be managed by lifestyle changes, counselling and/or treatments. 

Central nervous system (CNS)

The central nervous system receives, processes and stores information from the peripheral nerves and sends out messages telling the body how to respond. This consists of the brain and spinal cord and is enclosed within the skull and spine. 

Chronic

Persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease. Other examples of chronic diseases include cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Cognition

Your cognition refers to processes involved in knowing, learning and understanding things. These processes include: memory, thinking, processing information, attention and concentration.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is a type of talking therapy that can help you to manage your problems by helping you to understand and change the way you think and behave. This can help you with problems such as anxiety and depression.

Counselling

A type of talking therapy - you can discuss how you’re feeling confidentially with your therapist and they may be able to suggest ways to help you deal with certain problems such as anxiety. 

Corticosteroids

A treatment used to treat a variety of conditions. It can help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. 

Immune system

A system in the body that distinguishes everything foreign to the body, and protects it against infections and foreign substances. 

Inflammation

Normally inflammation is how your body reacts to injury or infection. Inflammation is one way in which your body fights against foreign substances like bacteria and viruses while also getting rid of any of your cells which are already dying. But if inflammation happens when it’s not supposed to, it can cause damage, like in MS.

Lesions

A lesion (also called a plaque) is an area of the central nervous system that has been damaged or scarred by MS. Sclerosis means scarred. Lesions look like white patches on an MRI scan.

Lesions are caused by the inflammation that happens when the immune system attacks myelin

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in the body. MRI is used on the brain and spinal cord to help diagnose multiple sclerosis. 

Multiple sclerosis

A chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). In multiple sclerosis, inflammation attacks the myelin, and stops and/or limits the information transmission from nerves.

Myelin (myelin sheath)

The protective layer around the nerve fibres in the central nervous system (CNS), which in MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks, causing inflammation

Optic nerve

The nerve which transmits images from the retina to the brain. 

Optic neuritis

A condition which occurs when the optic nerve becomes inflamed. This can lead to symptoms such as: blurring or a blind spot in the centre of your vision, colours appearing darker or washed out, light flashes when you move your eyes and pain, especially when you move your eyes.

Relapse

The name for an event when new symptoms of relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) appear, or when old symptoms return to the same or a new area of the body for a period of 24 hours or more. You might also hear relapses called flare-ups, exacerbations, attacks, worsening, acute episodes or clinical events. 

Remission

When a person living with MS has partially or completely recovered from a relapse, and when few or no MS symptoms are currently present. 

Remyelination

The replacement of lost or damaged myelin. Failure to repair myelin and replace lost nerves cells can cause disability.

Spinal cord

Nerve fibres and tissue, which are enclosed in the spine and connect nearly all parts of the body to the brain. The spinal cord forms part of the central nervous system. 

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