Q. What is Multiple Sclerosis?
A. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults. 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. MS is a life-long condition, but it is not terminal, and people with MS can expect to live as long as anyone else. Symptoms of MS include visual problems, muscle, bladder or bowel problems, pain, mobility, cognitive and emotional difficulties and tiredness.
Q. How common is MS?
A. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults. The incidence of MS is higher in the northern hemisphere than the rest of the world. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop MS but usually people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 years - 40 years. In the UK, about 85,000 people have MS.
Q. What forms can MS take?
A. Benign MS is the mildest form, characterised by a small number of relapses followed by a complete recovery each time. There is no guarantee that it is ever gone for good and it is possible to have a relapse after many years.
Relapsing remitting MS is the most common type. Relapses may last for days, weeks or months, and there may be new symptoms each time, or a recurrence of previous ones. After each relapse, people may recover completely, but many symptoms only improve without disappearing altogether.
Secondary progressive MS shows a steady worsening of symptoms, with or without relapses.
Primary progressive MS is the most severe form. Symptoms will get steadily worse with no distinct relapses, or remissions.
Q. What causes MS?
A. No single gene causes MS but it is possible that a combination of genes raise the level of susceptibility to MS. It is also possible that something in the environment such as viruses or bacteria may trigger a reaction that affects a person's immune system. There is a 2% risk of a child inheriting MS from a parent with the condition.
Symptoms for MS vary in severity and affect people differently. People with MS need a variety of services and equipment to help them manage.
Some experts believe that a common childhood infection in cooler countries may disturb the immune system or trigger an autoimmune response in some people which develops into MS.
Q. Is there medical treatment to relieve the symptoms of MS?
A. Yes, if you talk to the Consultant Neurologist they will put you on a programme of treatment if that is appropriate for you.
Q. Who can I contact for information about MS?
The MS Society is the UK's largest charity for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) a membership organisation but provide services to all.
The Society funds MS research, runs therapy and respite care centres, provides financial assistance, education and training on MS. It produces numerous publications on MS and runs a freephone specialist helpline.
The MS Trust provides information for anyone affected by multiple sclerosis, education programmes for health professionals and funding for practical research and campaigning for specialist multiple sclerosis services.
Offers practical advice, information and support grants to assist individuals or groups buy items or services.
Find what you need fast in our directory of conditions, services and support. Search by keyword or A-Z of conditions.A-Z of Conditions