Glossary beginning with V

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Vaccination, or immunisation, is when the body is injected with a harmless form of a virus. This allows the immune system to learn the virus and produce natural antibodies to it. It means that if the person catches the real virus, the body will already know how to fight it (they will be immune). The general consensus within the medical field is that vaccinations 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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A virus is a tiny microbe, much smaller than bacteria. They do not have the ability to reproduce themselves so have to infect living cells to grow and multiply. Viruses therefore enter cells in the body to cause diseases such as flu and chicken pox. There is a lot of research looking at viruses as a potential cause or trigger in MS. The most studied example to date is the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), but it remains unclear as to whether EBV has any role in causing or contributing to MS.

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Visual evoked potential

A VEP test measures electrical activity in the brain in response to visual stimuli (e.g. a flashing light). The activity is measured by placing electrodes on the scalp. If the brain is damaged, nerve activity is slowed down. VEPs are used to diagnose MS - the VEP is affected in approximately 90% of people with the condition.

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Vitamin B12

A vitamin that is essential in the functioning of the brain and nervous system. There is some evidence supporting the theory that a lack of vitamin B12 can speed up the process of demyelination, and vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes be confused with MS.

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Vitamin D

Several studies have suggested that vitamin D plays a role in MS - but the exact nature of the relationship between the vitamin and MS is still unclear.

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