Demyelination Symptoms

Myelin is a substance that forms an insulating sheath around the axons of nerve cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Myelin is mainly made up of lipids and in the central nervous system is formed from the oligodendrocytes, a form of neuroglia that serve to protect and insulate axons. In the peripheral nerve system, myelin is formed from Schwann cells.

Any disorder that leads to the destruction of this myelin covering is referred to as demyelinating disease. Damage to the myelin sheath disrupts nerve signal conduction, resulting in neurological symptoms such as reductions in sensation, cognitive ability and movement as well as decreases in any other functions that depend on nerve signalling.

The mechanisms underlying demyelination are not clearly understood but contributory factors thought to be involved include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Certain infections
  • Some autoimmune disorders
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals

Symptoms of demyelinating disease

The symptoms of demyelination depend on the type of demyelinating disease a person has and whether the central nervous system or peripheral nervous system is affected. Examples of some of the symptoms that may manifest in demyelinating diseases include:

  • Impaired vision, ocular paralysis
  • Speech problems
  • Muscle movement disorder such as ataxia and unsteady gait
  • Parasthesia or a burning, tickling, or prickling feeling in the skin
  • Hemiparesis or muscle weakness in one side of the body
  • Incontinence
  • Hearing problems
  • Fatigue
  • Clumsiness

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Alexandria D Alexandria D United States says:

    Can chronic  dizziness or feeling of motion sickness as well as inability to sit at a computer without feeling of dizziness/spinning be attributed to MS? DX with MS Feb 2008   Thank you

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