Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is a type of multiple sclerosis that primarily affects younger patients who are in their 20s or 30s. This form of multiple sclerosis occurs when affected people have relapses of multiple sclerosis and stable intervals in between those relapses. Relapses are episodes of current or deteriorating symptoms that aren't caused by fever or infection and exceed 48 hours in length. In other words, patients in stable conditions experience bouts of both new and worsening symptoms.
A multiple sclerosis attack is often followed by a recovery period during which symptoms are minimal; this is called remission. It can last weeks, months or longer, and the disease doesn't get worse. After a decade or two, RRMS often transitions into another form of multiple sclerosis called secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. During this stage, relapses aren’t as frequent, but the disease progressively gets worse.
What Causes RRMS?
Multiple sclerosis develops after your body’s immune system attacks your central nervous system. These attacks damage the myelin, a tissue layer that insulates and protects your nerves. This, in turn, affects how the nerves work and transmit sensations. The resulting damage leads to multiple sclerosis symptoms.
The exact cause of RRMS and other multiple sclerosis forms is currently unknown, but scientists think that a combination of environmental factors and genetics triggers the multiple sclerosis disease and, in turn, makes a person more vulnerable to RRMS.
Some of these environmental factors include vitamin D deficiency, smoking and having viral infections. Experts believe that multiple sclerosis could be caused by a body-dormant infection like Epstein-Barr virus, which often triggers infectious mononucleosis.