MS

FACTS ABOUT MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common disabling neurological disorder amongst young adults.  Around 85,000 people in the UK alone have MS.

MS is the result of damage to MYELIN—a protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibres of the central nervous system. When Myelin is damaged it interferes with the messages sent by the brain to parts of the body.

For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it has a progressive pattern.—For everyone, it makes life unpredictable.

  • Every week around 50 people in the UK are diagnosis with MS
  • There are two main types: progressive, which gets steadily worse, and the relapse and remission type where sufferers have intermittent attacks, but also free spells as well
  • Diagnosis is usually between 20 and 40 years of age—rarely under 12 or over 55.
  • Three women for every two men have MS
  • Common symptoms include pain, fatigue, problems with sight, mobility and co-ordination
  • MS is not hereditary—but there is a slightly higher risk if a relative has it—and it’s not contagious.
  • There is no cure for MS, but there are drugs which can modify its course for some people and many symptoms can be successfully treated and managed.

EVERYDAY LIFE

Life doesn’t stop when you have MS, even if it feels it sometimes.

The unpredictability of symptoms can be frustrating and difficult at times, however with a little advance planning, and acceptance that you have MS, it is perfectly possible to live with the condition and lead a fulfilling and active life.

Focusing on areas of life that can be easily managed may help people with MS to remain positive and get the most out of life.

DIET AND EXERCISE

Life everyone else, people with MS can benefit from a healthy, balanced diet so that your body has all the fuel it needs to function and it is particularly important when you are living with a long-term unpredictable illness.

Many, find that they can improve their quality of life and sense of well-being by eating a sensible well balanced diet, combined with appropriate exercise can help decrease fatigue.  This means eating food low in saturated fats, plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and fibre.

Physical fitness benefits everyone, and for people with MS there are additional benefits to taking regular gentle exercise. It helps strengthen bones, improves muscle strength and increases suppleness. This can make relapses less disabling and prevent long term muscle wastage and postural problems.

You should always check with your GP before embarking on a new diet or fitness regime.

Eating well and keeping fit, can make coping with the symptoms of MS easier and help you develop a plan that can be adjusted as your needs change.  It doesn’t need to be a rigid plan, so keep it flexible.

REMEMBER:

There is no harm in having the occasional chocolate bar, glass of wine or bag of crisps every now and then, it’s just about having everything in moderation!

PREGNANCY AND MS

Most women are diagnosis with MS in there thirties, at exactly the time they may start thinking about a family.  Years ago women would have been advised against starting a family, but with developed research and a better understanding about the condition it is no longer an issue.

Having MS has no effect on pregnancy or giving birth, and many mothers to be have healthy pregnancies and healthily babies.

Many women find that during pregnancy they have never felt better and suffer less relapses.  However you should understand that there will be an increased risk to the mothers health in the first months after the birth due to the demands of being a new mother.

It is important therefore to take extra care of yourself during pregnancy and as a new mother, by establishing a routine, having plenty of rest and accepting help from family and friends!

The good news is that MS is no reason not to have a baby.  If only everything about being a parent were that easy!

COPING WITH FAMILY LIFE

After you have come to terms with your diagnosis you will be thinking about the affect on your family and especially if you have children.

Don’t worry, having Ms won’t make you any less a parent or partner.  And by talking about your feelings and issues you may have to face, and learning new ways to cope, you can minimise the affect MS has on your family life and deal with pretty much anything that they deal you.

While it’s true that MS can affect the more demanding side to family life, this just means a little more forward planning may be needed for outings and events.  If you are unable to do some of the more physical things, then share the responsibility.  Other family members, friends, or clubs can help your children still do the things that other children normally do.

EMPLOYMENT AND BENEFITS

There is no reason why most people with MS should not continue working long after

diagnosis. For many people working is not only about income, it is also about having a focus and feeling positive self esteem.

It may be helpful if you talk to your employer and colleagues about symptoms you may experience, as it is not always easy for other people to appreciate for example, that fatigue is not the same as “being tired”, or to understand the effects of poor co-ordination.

It is important to remember that you are still the same person the day after diagnosis as you were the day before. You have not lost you skills or knowledge.

MS can have financial implications and so it is worth checking benefits, to see whether there are any you can claim. Even if you have looked into it before, it is worth checking your entitlement regularly as the rules for existing benefits often change, and new ones are introduced.

In addition, if your symptoms get worse, it is worth checking if you are entitled to higher rates or further benefits for which you were not previously eligible.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

When you are first diagnosis with MS you will naturally want to know what is available in terms of treatments and therapies.  Although there is currently no cure for MS, you will be pleased to hear that there are some therapies that can play a vital role to alleviate the symptoms of MS.  These range from drugs to complementary therapies.

Disease modifying drugs act to reduce the number and severity of MS relapses.

Steroids may help with relapses and recently a cannabis based drug “sativex” have become available to treat pain.

Complementary  therapies include moderate exercise and a healthy lifestyle.  Other popular therapies include dietary supplements, herbalist, homeopathy, acupuncture, mediation, massage and yoga.