Healthy Living

Is Multiple Sclerosis Chronic?

Is Multiple Sclerosis Chronic?

Key Takeaways

  • Multiple sclerosis affects each person differently, and the course of the condition determines the specific type of multiple sclerosis one suffers from.
  • Any condition is believed to be chronic if it persists for a fairly long time or if it keeps recurring over your lifetime.
  • MS is a chronic ailment as it affects not only the nervous system but also the immune system over time.

There are many chronic diseases that exist, and one of them is multiple sclerosis (MS). Statistics have shown that they top the causes of premature deaths in adults worldwide. The good news is that these medical conditions can be managed and controlled, and patients can have fulfilling lives. Medical practitioners believe multiple sclerosis to be an autoimmune disease that comes as a result of damage done to the nervous system by one’s immune system. Currently, multiple sclerosis has no cure but adopting certain lifestyles, and the early detection of the disease will allow patients to live a normal active life, although they need to make certain compromises.

Multiple sclerosis affects each person differently, and the course of the condition determines the specific type of multiple sclerosis one suffers from. The common forms of multiple sclerosis observed are as outlined below:

  • Relapsing-remitting MS
  • Primary progressive MS
  • Secondary progressive MS
  • Progressive-relapsing MS

Relapsing-remitting MS

Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common form, which represents over 80 percent of MS patients. These patients experience their first indicators when they are in their early 20s. Their experience is accompanied by symptoms coming in the form of attacks and then followed by periods of recovery.

Relapses refer to the symptoms experienced while in the periods of recovery. The symptoms and recovery achieved over time have a wide variation in different patients. During the entire progression period, relapsing-remitting MS may be inactive or active and can worsen or improve the symptoms in the patient. Secondary progressive MS is the next stage where the patients will have a worse neurological function.

Primary progressive MS 

Primary progressive MS comes about as a result of MS getting worse as time goes by. Once the symptoms first appear, they are not immediately followed by neither relapses nor remissions. In this case, attacks are not well-defined, and recovery is almost impossible to achieve. Treatments that are specially designed to deal with MS do not function properly with this form of MS. Primary progressive MS accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of MS patients. Forty years is the average age for most patients diagnosed with this type of MS. It affects women and men in equal numbers while the other types of MS affect more women than men at 75 percent. It has the highest ability to make patients disabled as compared to the other types.

Secondary progressive MS

It affects to those people who have suffered a relapsing-remitting MS over long periods of time. The symptoms are always the first signs observed and they appear steady but have no remission or relapse periods. Progression of the most common MS to secondary progressive MS occurs between 10 to 20 years after a diagnosis of a relapsing-remitting MS. The reasons behind the shifting of the disease are unknown, but researchers know a couple of things that take place in this period.

First, diagnosed people who are older have the change coming within a very short time. Secondly, for those who have relapses and remission periods that continue with no signs of full recovery usually shift faster than those who fully recover. Lastly, although damage to the nerves is an ongoing process, after the shift, the damage is significantly reduced. In this stage, the disease is hard to treat and managing the condition becomes difficult.

Progressive-relapsing MS

This happens to be the least encountered form of MS. Usually, patients find their condition steadily worsening. Clear relapses are also experienced but only short-lived. Knowledge about this condition is limited even to doctors as it affects less than 5 percent of the entire MS patients. The signs, symptoms, and characteristics of this type are more similar to those suffering from a primary progressive MS, which is why the two can easily be confused.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Any condition is believed to be chronic if it persists for a fairly long time or if it keeps recurring over your lifetime. Likewise, multiple sclerosis is also a condition that is chronic in nature. Its symptoms manifest gradually and progress to intense stages. Since it involves the central nervous system, it is bound to affect the nerves, leading to difficulties in nerve transmission, issues with the spinal cord, brain, optic nerves, and more. While some patients are diagnosed with MS at an early stage, the diagnosis could take a while in some individuals. Difficulties in diagnosing MS happens as there is no specific test to confirm the condition. However, a number of tests are carried out at various stages to rule out the presence of other conditions. Tests such as the ECG, MRI, urine tests, blood tests, and tests that record the electrical activities of the heart and brain can help in identifying the underlying problem. The symptoms of this condition depend on the extent of the nerve fiber damage. From mild to severe, these symptoms could include numbness, difficulty in movements, tingling sensations, fatigue, vision problems, and more, leading to severe depression and anxiety in the long run. It could also lead to problems in the spinal cord, brain, and problems that are associated with learning, understanding, etc.

Yes, MS is a chronic ailment as it affects not only the nervous system but also the immune system over time. Thus, the symptoms tend to recur every now and then. This neurological disorder could even cause disabilities in people due to a delayed autoimmune response or damaged nerve fibers. A number of drugs such as immunosuppressants can be administered. However, these drugs should not be bought over-the-counter, and one must have a proper prescription and consultation with a doctor. Since every case of multiple sclerosis varies, it is not necessary for a general treatment to be formulated for everyone. Different people have different issues, which may grow or come up with the recurrence or persistence of multiple sclerosis. A typical chronic case requires medical attention with immediate effect to combat any trouble that an individual might face in the future. Although a number of drugs have proved to be helpful to control the condition, it cannot be reversed. A good diet, healthy lifestyle and proper routine can help the patient to deal with the condition in a better way.