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What Factors Affect Multiple Sclerosis Prognosis?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, incurable disease that affects nerve functioning in the body. The severity of symptoms can range from mild tingling sensations and fatigue to debilitating leg numbness, tremors, and speaking difficulties. Many different factors can affect a multiple sclerosis prognosis, including the extent of existing nerve damage, the patient's age and sex, and the availability of medical care, physical therapy, and emotional support. Most patients who seek treatment and have the support of friends and loved ones can expect to reach normal life expectancy and enjoy daily life.

Patients who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in its initial stages generally have the best chances of keeping complications to a minimum and maintaining some degree of independence. Since the disease is inheritable, parents can have their children checked for warning signs of impending health problems. Multiple sclerosis generally appears sometime in late adolescence or early adulthood, so careful monitoring and testing can detect the onset of the disease. Early treatment with corticosteroids, immune system-suppressing drugs, and physical therapy usually provides the best multiple sclerosis prognosis.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, female patients generally have a better multiple sclerosis prognosis than males. The disease tends to progress more rapidly in male patients and symptoms are often less responsive to medicines. When problems do not appear or remain undiagnosed until middle age, patients of both sexes are more likely to experience rapidly worsening health.

A dedicated team of doctors, therapists, and counselors can generally provide a better multiple sclerosis prognosis. Professionals can collaborate and plan a comprehensive, long-term treatment plan to ensure the best possible care. In addition, emotional support from family, friends, and community groups can help patients maintain positive outlooks on life and build the dedication necessary to stay active.

Most longitudinal studies give a grim multiple sclerosis prognosis for patients who do not seek treatment or do not have access to adequate care. As many as 30 percent of patients may develop severe disabilities and related health complications in less than 20 years after the onset of symptoms. Without regular examinations and medical support, major body organs can fail and paralyzing lesions can develop on the spinal cord. It is important for families to look into multiple sclerosis treatment options in their communities even if they do not believe they can pay for services. Many government agencies and nonprofit charitable organizations will work with families to find some way to help their loved ones enjoy long, fulfilling lives despite their disabilities.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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