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What Factors Affect Life Expectancy with Multiple Sclerosis?

People with multiple sclerosis should emphasize a nutritious, well-balanced diet and adequate rest.
A person with multiple sclerosis may experience tremors in the hands and feet that make movement and grip difficult.
Multiple sclerosis is a disorder that arises when an individual's immune system attacks the myelin sheaths surrounding axons in the central nervous system.
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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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Life expectancy with multiple sclerosis (MS) varies. It could be affected by factors such as the type of MS a patient has, the extent to which medical intervention succeeds, and the patient's stress levels. It also has a great deal to do with the intensity of a patent's attacks and symptoms.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive autoimmune disease afflicting the spine and brain, happens when the protective covering around nerve cells, the myelin sheath, is damaged and the body's immune cells end up attacking the central nervous system (CNS). This disease impacts women more than men and typically starts between ages 20 to 40; however it can occur at any time in the lifespan. Researchers believe that a gene, virus, environmental causes, or all of these could be involved in MS.

The particular type of MS a person has could influence life expectancy with multiple sclerosis (MS). For example, a rare type of acute MS tends to be fatal within a few weeks. Typically, the life expectancy with multiple sclerosis is usually 35 years after symptoms start. Thus, a typical individual with MS has a life expectancy of approximately 95 percent of the life expectancy of a person without MS.

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Effectiveness of medical intervention is a factor which influences life expectancy with multiple sclerosis (MS). Patients could choose to take medication, do exercise, get physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Also, the patient could choose to implement good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and get sufficient rest. Patients could also seek an alternative medicine doctor and could choose to explore alternative medicine therapies, such as the Cayce treatment for MS. The extent to which these interventions work could influence life expectancy.

Stress in the patient's life can influence life expectancy with multiple sclerosis (MS). For instance, it has been shown in research that stress is a factor in MS. Thus, if a patient is able to reduce the amount of stress in his or her life, that can help mitigate MS symptoms and in turn that could result in longer lifespan.

Medication side effects could be a factor which influences life expectancy. Side effects associated with MS medication range from relatively mild symptoms such as flu-like or irritation symptoms to more extreme symptoms such as toxicity in the heart or even leukemia. Of note, two medications for MS called natalizumab and mitoxantrone have severe potential side effects and are usually not suggested as first-line medications. Potentially negative side effects of the medication means that the physician must constantly monitor the patient's reaction to the MS medication.

The intensity of the MS attacks and symptoms plays a role in life expectancy with multiple sclerosis (MS). Things such as the number of attacks, time intervals between attacks, and the specific type of MS symptoms are factors. If the patient has fewer attacks in the years immediately after diagnosis, if there are longer time intervals between attacks, and if the MS symptoms are mainly sensory such as tingling or numbness, that means the MS is progressing slowly and that could result in the patient living longer. On the other hand, if the patient has numerous attacks during the years after diagnosis, if full recovery does not happen after each attack, if there are walking problems, coordination loss, or tremors, or if the doctor finds lesions on the patient's spine and brain soon after diagnosis, this means that the patient's MS is progressing very fast and that could mean a potentially shorter lifespan for the patient if symptoms keep getting worse.

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