It’s estimated that there are around 100,000 people in the UK with multiple sclerosis (MS), with 5,000 people newly diagnosed with the condition annually.
To understand exactly what MS is and how it can potentially impact your loved one, it’s important to have as much information as possible. To assist, we’ve answered your most frequent questions.
What is multiple sclerosis?
The first thing to note is that multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition, which means that it impacts your nerves. People develop it when their immune system isn’t functioning as it should.
Specifically, when someone has MS their immune system does the opposite of what it normally should do. Instead of protecting and combating infection, it attacks the nerves.
What are the symptoms of MS?
As MS damages a person’s nerves, this means that the brain is unable to send signals properly to the rest of the body. Someone suffering from MS also won’t be able to move and feel as they normally would.
As a result of this, symptoms can include:
- Problems walking
- Lethargy and feeling tired
- Weakness in muscles and spasms
- Blurred or double vision
- Issues with remembering and trouble focusing
- Sexual problems
- Numbness and tingling
- Difficulty controlling bladder or bowels
As the condition has a number of symptoms, it’s unlikely that your loved one will feel them all or suffer from them at the same time. No two people experience MS in exactly the same way.
What are the different types of multiple sclerosis?
The three main types of MS are:
- Primary progressive
- Secondary progressive
The majority of people with the condition are diagnosed with this type, this is around 85%. Relapsing MS manifests itself through distinct attacks of specific symptoms that then fade away partially or completely. Certain symptoms might come back or that individual may suffer attacks of new symptoms.
This occurs where the same symptoms gradually get worse over time rather than appearing as sudden attacks.
This is where symptoms build up severely over time causing an ongoing disability rather than distinct and sudden attacks.
At what age do people get multiple sclerosis?
For many people, the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis begin to show between the ages of 20 to 40.
Can you die from MS?
Most people with multiple sclerosis don’t die directly from the condition. On average they will have a life expectancy of around seven years less than the general population but will tend to die from the same conditions as people that don’t have multiple sclerosis, such as cancer and heart disease.
Is there a cure for multiple sclerosis?
Currently, there is no cure, but there are a number of potential treatments to help combat some of the symptoms and to keep that person’s body working well. These include certain drugs to help slow the symptoms and improve the nervous system, such as muscle relaxants to help ease spasms.
Regular exercise that focuses on strength, such as yoga is thought to help. A physical therapist will be able to implement tailored exercises to improve an individual’s strength and balance as well as to alleviate pain.
How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
Multiple sclerosis can be very difficult to diagnose as many of the symptoms will be very similar or identical to other nerve disorders. A neurologist will make a diagnosis based on medical history and by checking for signs of damage to the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
Tests will include:
- Blood tests
- Balance, coordination and vision checks
- MRI scans
- Checks for electrical activity in the brain
- Analysis of the fluid in the brain and spinal cord
What can I do to help my loved one?
If a loved one has MS, it’s important to encourage them to exercise as much as possible in ways that can boost their energy levels. Crucially, you should provide emotional support to help them deal with any stress and anxiety that they may be feeling.
The assistance of an occupational therapist can also be vital, as they will be able to teach them new ways to do certain daily tasks that can help ease the pain and make life a little bit easier.
What are the available care options for a loved one with MS?
At Cera, we provide both home care and live-in care for those living with MS. All of our care packages are personalised and will be tailored to the specific needs of your loved one.
Everything we do is geared around helping your loved one to stay comfortable and safe at home, in a familiar environment for as long as possible. Each element of the care package will be built around their individual needs and they will also be matched with a highly professional carer that has specialist knowledge and expertise to provide them with the best possible care. Crucially they will also share similar interests to encourage socialising and companionship.
Learn more about home and live-in care with Cera or contact us on 0333 455 2502 to discuss the needs of your loved one.