How Neuromyelitis Optica Affects the Body

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Neuromyelitis optica is an autoimmune disorder that targets the insulation around the nerves called the myelin. The immune system typically protects your body by fighting off bacteria and other foreign invaders. With neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders, your body's immune system attacks healthy nerves by mistake and causes damage to the central nervous system aside from the optic nerve.

Swelling and inflammation in your spinal cord and optic nerve can lead to symptoms such as pain in your eyes, vision loss, colors appearing differently, weakness in your legs and arms, muscle spasms, paralysis, and vomiting. People may have cycles where periods of new or worsening symptoms called relapses are followed by periods of little to no symptoms. Your doctor may do tests such as an MRI and examine blood and spinal fluid to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. While there is no cure for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, treatment options, such as steroids and biologic drugs can ease symptoms and help prevent relapses of the disease. [MUSIC PLAYING]