03 Nov Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. The body’s immune system begins attacking the myelin, a protective layer that surrounds the nerve fibers. The result is inflammation, scar tissue, and lesions. The brain can no longer send messages to body parts.
MS is not fatal and life expectancy is about the same as the general population. People with MS die from the same illnesses as the general population such as cancer or other diseases. Cases of severe MS are rare. Most people with MS manage well without assistive devices for 10 to 20 years after diagnosis.
The severity of the illness varies greatly person to person so, the progression of the disease will also vary greatly. This makes it important to establish a care team early in the diagnosis and treatment process.
The Care Team may be comprised of the following professionals:
- Primary Care Physician
- Nursing professionals
- Social Worker
- Psychologist and Psychiatrist
- Physical and Occupational Therapy
- Speech and Language Pathologist
- Recreational Therapist
To determine the personal progression of MS, there are risk factors to consider. It is difficult to predict the progression and progression varies from person to person.
Risk factors include (but not limited to):
- Over 40 when onset occurred
- initial symptoms affect many body parts
- initial symptoms affected mental abilities, motor control, or urinary control
According to the Mayo Clinic, women are more likely to develop MS than men and the severity of symptoms is highly dependent on risk factors.
There are different types of MS as well. There may be relapses, remissions, or steady decline. Each case differs.
- Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) – Characterized by a steady decline without remission or relapses
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) – characterized by remissions with mild or absent symptoms and no disease progression. This is the most common type.
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) – where there is one episode lasting 24 hours due to demyelination in the central nervous system. There are two types of CIS – monofocal and multifocal. This is not enough to give a true MS diagnosis.
- Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS) – occurs when RRMS becomes progressive. There are relapses and a gradual decline in function and disability.
All of these diagnoses and risk factors play a role in the progression of the disease and outcomes. However, it is not fatal and there is no cure.
Early treatment can be instrumental in slowing the progress and leading to remissions. MS affects the quality of life more than life expectancy. Some types can affect lifespan but this is an exception.