Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is multiple sclerosis a genetic ailment?"
Can I get it if my father has it? I am 32 and OK.
As you know, multiple sclerosis is a neurologic disease that effects movement, and can cause numbness, tingling, and pain. It is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the outer lining of the brain and spinal cord nerve cells. Although the cause of the disease is unknown, we believe that it develops from a mixture of a person's genes and different exposures a person has in their environment. I will explain what I mean by that. MS is not inherited. In other words your dad does not have an MS gene that you inherited causing you to develop the disease. However, your dad may have had a series of genes that increased that chances that he would develop MS. Since you have half of his genes in your body, this increases the chances that you will develop MS. With that said, most people that have relatives with MS do not develop it themselves. This is because we do not have the same environmental exposures as our parents did. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss symptoms that you can look out for. If you develop symptoms that are concerning down the road, then you can schedule an appointment with a neurologist for a more complete evaluation.
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