According to WebMD, Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a long-lasting disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in your eyes. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions.
The effects are often different for everyone who has the disease. Some people have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment. Others will have trouble getting around and doing daily tasks. (1) That said, some common symptoms include problems with balance and sensation, difficulties with leg or arm movement, and vision problems. MS is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. It is quite common for the condition to lead to significant disability, although some people have only mild symptoms.
Thanks to an increased understanding in multiple sclerosis signs, symptoms, and treatments, there is now a lot of help out there to manage the condition. The result is that, while the condition is life limiting, average lifespan is only slightly reduced. That said, in those who have more significant forms of the condition, quality of life is much lower than in those who do not have the condition.
MS is often diagnosed quite early in life. Symptoms, with hindsight, will have been apparent for a very long time, but they are generally dismissed as things other than MS, such as viral infections, migraines, or vertigo. Often, an event happens that is actually an MS flareup, at which point people are diagnosed. In most cases, they are then between 20 and 40 years old. It should be noted that MS is around three times more likely to occur in women than in men.
Multiple Sclerosis Signs, Symptoms and Treatments:
Each individual who has been diagnosed with the condition experiences it in different ways and in different parts of the body. That said, there are a number of common signs and symptoms, including:
– Difficulty walking
– Bladder control problems
– Vision problems, including blurry vision and, sometimes, temporary blindness
– Muscle spasms and stiffness
– Tingling on numbness in the body
– Coordination and balance problems
– Cognitive problems
There are different types of MS, which is why the condition also presents itself in different ways. In some people, MS has regular flareups, followed by lengthy periods of remission. In others, however, the condition progresses over time, getting steadily worse.
It is important to speak to a physician if you are concerned that you may have MS. Often, the earlier symptoms are misdiagnosed, which is why you should continue to speak to your physician. Eventually, patterns of symptoms will be identified, which will point to MS. Your physician should refer you to a neurologist, who can conduct a number of tests, including an MRI, to determine whether MS is present or not.
The Different Types of MS:
There are two ways in which the symptoms in multiple sclerosis signs, symptoms and treatments become apparent:
1. Relapsing/Remitting MS
This means that someone has individual attacks, relapses, or exacerbations. Progressively, the condition will become more apparent. Around 80% of people have this type of MS. It means that people have sudden episodes where they experience worsening symptoms or new symptoms. Usually, these relapses get worse over the course of a few days, before settling again. Sometimes, a relapse only lasts for a few days, and at other times it can take many months. Usually, the condition gets worse gradually and then improves gradually again, taking the same amount of time.
In most cases, there are no warning signs for a relapse. However, if the patients aree under significant stress or have experienced an illness, they are more likely to have a relapse. Once the situation improves, the symptoms sometimes completely disappear. In fact, in many cases, no treatment is needed at all. Yet, other people find that they have persistent symptoms, and they may experience attacks again and again over the course of years.
The time periods in which people do not experience symptoms, or no significant ones, are known as a “remission”. Sometimes, people go into remission for years. There have even been cases in which people believed that they had overcome the condition, although this is not the case.
2. Progressive MS
The second type of MS is progressive MS, which is further subdivided into two types. Firstly, there is primary progressive MS. This is the rarest form of the condition, with only 10% of people suffering from it. This means that their symptoms gradually get worse over time. Over the course of a number of years, the symptoms get worse and worse. There are no remission periods at all, although there are sometimes periods of time in which the condition stabilizes to a certain degree, which may also be caused by people simply adjusting to their new set of conditions.
Secondary progressive MS usually happens in people who have had relapsing/remitting MS for several decades. It is common for them to develop this after around 15 to 20 years, in fact. This means that they stop having relapses and remissions, but rather see their symptoms suddenly start to get worse and worse over time. Sometimes, relapses continue to happen as well, although they become less frequent. Around 50% of people with relapsing/remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS as well. The longer you live with the condition, the more likely it will be for this to happen.
The Causes of MS:
According to the MS Foundation, no one knows the direct cause of MS – yet. There is a widespread belief among doctors and researchers that there is no single cause of MS. Instead, it is believed that MS is the result of a combination of several different factors. A tremendous amount of research is being done to find out what role these different factors play and just how large their effect might be. (2)
According to Mayoclinic, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment typically focuses on speeding recovery from attacks, slowing the progression of the disease and managing MS symptoms. Some people have such mild symptoms that no treatment is necessary. (3) This treatment is directed at the specific difficulties and symptoms you experience. They include:
– Steroid medication during relapse in an effort to speed up recovery.
– Treating each individual symptom appropriately.
– Disease-modifying therapy, which helps to reduce the number of relapses. Furthermore, this therapy also often slows down the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, this is not effective on progressive MS (primary or secondary).
It can be challenging to live with MS. However, over the past few decades, new treatments have been developed to significantly increase the quality of life of patients. It is rarely a fatal condition, but it can lead to complications that can be more dangerous. Overall, life expectancy for someone with MS is between five and 10 years less than the average individual, and this gap is closing.