The Impact of Multiple Sclerosis on Quality of Life

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As a follow up to yesterday's post introducing the disease, here is some more information about the affects of Multiple Scerlosis.

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The Impact of Multiple Sclerosis on Quality of Life

Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that damages the fatty myelin sheaths around axons of the brain, produces a myriad of symptoms, and until very recently, was largely considered a mysterious disease, with no known cause or treatment. Today, there are many more treatments available and research has begun to shed some light on the basics of this disease. While treatment is beginning to offer a far more optimistic outcome, those with an MS diagnosis still experience changes to their quality of life.

Those suffering from MS may lose the ability to use their extremities at some point during their disease. MS sufferers commonly are effected by “flare-ups” were symptoms worsen for a period of time. For some, these worsening symptoms can affect the extremities, the eyes, the gastrointestinal tract, or the brain. Flares generally occur during the spring and the summer, but the reason for this is unknown. During flares those suffering from MS will require more help than they normally would, and many will find it difficult if not impossible to work during these periods.

Because of this, the economic implications of MS are high. In fact, many with MS will eventually not be able to keep up full time employment, and would need to turn disability benefits as the disease progresses. There are, however, individuals who have the ability to work, through the majority of their illness, in specific industries.

The onset of this disease usually occurs during the peak productive ages of 20 to 50 years; having the major family's breadwinner suddenly not be able to work and earn a full time income due to the implications of MS causes major financial strain both on the person suffering and their immediate family. MS affects sensation, cognition, and motor function, all of which are essential to a person's productivity and these can be symptoms which prevent patients from being able to work on a full, or even part time basis. Fatigue, is also a very common MS symptom, can be a critical reason for poor job performance and attendance.

The psychological impact of such a disability is obvious and depression is also common among those suffering with MS. Careful mental health care, should be offered to all patients with MS.

The changes in the life of a person suffering with MS oftentimes also cause strain and changes in their relationships, both with immediate families, colleagues and friends. Symptoms brought about by MS often means those suffering will not be able to keep on being as active as they once were, and this can cause difficulties in their relationship with their spouse, children and friends. The spouse of a person suffering with MS will also have to adapt to changes in lifestyle and in the quality of life, due to economic implications and financial strain the disease can bring on a family. The level of intimacy between a couple impact by MS will also change, due to the different symptoms and fatigue, and this again causes another level of stress between a couple. A mother or father suffering from MS will also experience changes in the way they are able to cope with their children; they might not be able to keep on being the active parents they once were.

With all these major changes occurring, families and especially spouses of those suffering with this disease should seek help and also some counselling to learn themselves how to cope with these changes and how to best care of their loved one.

Those with MS, and their families, should make self care a priority and ensure regular reviews are being conducted to monitor the progress of the disease. Proper nutrition should also be a top priority as this can contribute to alleviating some symptoms. In fact, those with MS can help reduce their symptoms by keeping a carefully planned, well-balanced diet. Solid nutrition, that utilizes all of the food groups, helps build the immune system and can help to keep those who are ill with multiple sclerosis healthier in the long run. According to the National MS foundation, Omega 3-Fatty Acids should be a regular part of a patient's diet, or should be supplemented with dietary supplements. Studies have found those who took Omega supplements were less likely to see progression in their disability and were less likely to experience a relapse, or “flare-up”. Those with MS are also advised to keep their weight at a healthy range, as excessive weight can cause further complications of the disease. Regular physiotherapy sessions are also recommended.

While Multiple Sclerosis is surely a devastating diagnosis, there is plenty that can be done to ensure a quality of life for both the patient and his or her caregiver remains high. In fact, many MS patients spend many years living a relatively normal life with few limitations, and current treatment options are now available that allows for an increased quality of life for patients for much longer periods of time.

This article was contributed by Genpharm Services, a leading pharmaceutical consulting firm offering full market access services into the MENA region for specialty, rare disease, orphan drugs & biotech companies. Click here now to find out more about Genpharm Services.

The World Orphan Drug Congress team is delighted to welcome Genpharm as a sponsor to the 2013 event, taking place in November! Find out more about this event here >

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