Glossary beginning with I

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Immune cells

Cells that are responsible for detecting and fighting off infections. In people with MS, immune cells lose their ability to distinguish suspicious foreign cells from normal healthy cells. This causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the protective layer of myelin on nerve cells.

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Immune response

The immune response refers to the activity of the immune system immediately after an infection, and in the days and weeks following. If the infection strikes again, the immune system recognises it and can mount a quick response. This is what gives people immunity to certain infections.

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Immune system

The immune system is your body’s defence against infections. It is made up of organs, proteins, white blood cells, and antibodies. It's job is to destroy bacteria and viruses, neutralise toxins, repair damage to cells following injury, and destroy the body's own cells if they are no longer functioning properly (eg to prevent cancer).

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Immunisation

Immunisation, or vaccination, is the process by which the body is injected with a harmless form of a virus. This process allows the immune system of the body to produce natural antibodies to the virus and give people immunity to viruses. There have been previous concerns that vaccinations, in particular hepatitis B vaccination, may play a role in triggering the onset or relapse of MS, but there is little evidence to suggest this is the case. The general consensus within the medical field is that vaccinations in general and hepatitis B vaccination do not increase the risk of onset or relapses in MS. There is no reason to advise people with MS, their relatives and children, or the general population to avoid vaccinations.

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Immuno-suppression

Immunosuppression involves reducing the activity of the immune system. Drugs which suppress the immune system are sometimes used to treat autoimmune conditions like MS.

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Immunology

Immunology is the study of the immune system and how it works.

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Incapacity Benefit

Incapacity Benefit was, until 2008, the benefit claimed by people who were incapable of work through ill health or disability. It is being replaced with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

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Income Support

Income Support is extra money to help people on a low income. It's for people who don't have to sign on as unemployed. Whether you qualify or not, and how much you get, depends on your circumstances.

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Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker's Allowance is a benefit paid if you are not in full-time work but are actively looking for work. Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance is means-tested and can be paid because you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify for Contribution -based Jobseekers' Allowance, or because you have already received that for six months.

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Incontinence

Incontinence, or problems 'holding on', means difficulty in controlling bladder or bowel movements. Both types of incontinence can affect people with MS.

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Infection

Infection is when bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms enter the body. It causes the body temperature to rise, which can feel like a relapse. It is important that infection is ruled out as a cause of any attack of symptoms.

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Inflammation

Inflammation describes the body's reaction to injury or infection. It is part of the immune response. Outside the central nervous system (CNS), inflammation causes the blood supply to the area to be increased and large numbers of white blood cells to be released. Inside the CNS, inflammation causes myelin damage. Active lesions in MS are sites of inflammation.

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Infusion

An infusion, also known as a drip, is a way of taking a drug. It is a liquid injected directly into a vein (usually in the arm) over a period of time.

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Intravenous infusion

An intravenous infusion is a method used to deliver some types of medication. It involves inserting the medication into the vein via a drip. This is usually done at a hospital.

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IVIg

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) is a treatment made from donated blood fluids. It used to be used as a treatment for MS if other treatments could not be used. However, it is not clear whether it is effective, and the Department of Health advises against its use for MS.

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