Knoxville native Trevor Bayne diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

Knoxville native Trevor Bayne diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

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Trevor Bayne Trevor Bayne
"In some people, if they're treated as soon as they have their first attack, they can go years without any further attacks. Sometimes ten years or longer," said Dr. Randall Trudell. "In some people, if they're treated as soon as they have their first attack, they can go years without any further attacks. Sometimes ten years or longer," said Dr. Randall Trudell.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WATE/AP) - NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne says he has multiple sclerosis. He does not expect the diagnosis to impact his racing career.

Bayne said Tuesday he will compete as scheduled at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series finales.

The 22-year-old driver was sidelined for five races in 2011 for an illness that led to hospitalization at the Mayo Clinic. Doctors ultimately called it an "inflammatory condition," and it was never made clear if it was related to an insect bite he'd suffered weeks earlier.

Bayne later said he didn't think the bite was the cause of his illness, but no further information was released.

Bayne's diagnosis explained

Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease, when a person's immune system attacks their own central nervous system, which includes the brain, spine and optic nerves.

"A person's immune system gets confused and thinks the insulation around the central nervous system shouldn't be there and reacts against it," explained Dr. Randall Trudell, clinical director of the MS Clinic at UT Medical Center's Cole Neuroscience Center.

Dr. Trudell says these periodic attacks cause vision problems, extreme fatigue and numbness.

"Maybe half their body is numb. Maybe they're having trouble using a limb, using an arm, or starting to stumble, having difficulty with their leg function," said Dr. Trudell.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, it can sometimes take a while to diagnosis.

"Now if somebody presented with an optic neuritis, where their eye hurts and they can't see out of that eye, that would immediately, in this age group, be one of the top one or two possibilities," said Trudell.

MS is most often diagnosed around Bayne's age, the early 20s, and is a lifelong disease.

The majority of cases are relatively mild if caught and treated early.

In the most severe cases, a patient will experience extreme numbness, an inability to move most of their limbs, along with trouble swallowing and seeing.

The most common course of treatment is medication to help prevent future attacks.

"In some people, if they're treated as soon as they have their first attack, they can go years without any further attacks. Sometimes ten years or longer," said Trudell.

Trudell says in most cases, MS patients go on to live normal lifespans.

There is currently no known cause of multiple sclerosis.

Bayne became the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history when he won the race as a 20-year-old in 2011.

Bayne is scheduled to drive for Roush-Fenway Racing full-time next season in the Nationwide Series, and a partial Cup schedule for The Wood Brothers.

6 News Reporter HAYLEY HARMON contributed to this report.

Portions of this report Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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