Multiple sclerosis (MS) distresses its sufferers in various ways. Younger patients with multiple sclerosis usually experience milder symptoms and have a higher chance of complete recovery. Most patients who are diagnosed with this disease at an early stage take a longer time to progress through different stages of MS and progression may be slowed or halted if diagnosed early and appropriate treatment is given. On the other hand, elderly people who suffer from MS usually experience more extreme symptoms and have lesser chance of recovering from the diseases effects. The progression of this disease is also usually more rapid in elderly MS patients.
As multiple sclerosis develops, a patient may progress through different stages of MS. As mentioned earlier, every individual with MS experiences a different progression rate and age is one of the factors affecting this.
The following are the different stages of MS:
Benign Multiple Sclerosis
The percentage rate of people with this stage of MS is relatively rare, accounting for approximately 10% of MS cases.
This stage of multiple sclerosis is categorised as only one or two attacks, followed by full recovery. The progression of this stage is very slow or sometimes no progression occurs at all. It does not worsen with time and doesn’t leave the patient with any disability.
At the onset of benign MS a person usually experiences sensory symptoms such as optic neuritis, dysesthesia (distortion of sense), paroxysmal symptoms (emotional outbursts) paresthesia (tingling and numbness) and diplopia (double vision). Signs of MS that some patients experience include loss of co-ordination and tremors. However, although this stage of MS has very slow progression or sometimes none at all, there are still individuals who will eventually experience progression which can evolve into further stages of MS, which are more aggressive.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
Approximately 55% of all patients diagnosed with MS fall into this category.
This is the most common among the stages of MS, during which a patient may experience more sporadic attacks, also known as exacerbations or relapses. More symptoms appear and existing symptoms may become more severe. The attacks can last for days or even months, followed by partial or sometimes complete recovery and remission.
Several episodes of acute damage of neurological function are experienced at this stage with or without clinical attacks. Those who continue to experience attacks usually retain a relapsing-remitting disease pattern.
Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
At this stage an MS patient experiences worsening of their symptoms. Usually walking difficulties and other motor dysfunctions occur at this stage and become worse rapidly. Less inflammation occurs in this form of MS as compared to relapsing MS.
Fewer patients undergo this stage, approximately 10% of all patients diagnosed with MS.
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
This stage develops after some patients have experienced relapsing remitting MS for several years. Constant worsening of symptoms occurs at this point, without remissions.
About 20% of MS patients experience this stage of MS within 10 years of onset of the disease.
Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis
Among the stages of MS, this stage is considered more progressive. It is characterised by constant worsening of symptoms and attacks, with or without recovery. At this point, disability increases due to long periods of attacks, which cause severe damage. It is considered to be the most alarming stage, and steroid therapy is usually required at this point, which can have extreme side effects. However this stage of MS is relatively rare, with approximately 5% of MS sufferers experiencing this form.
Regardless of the stages of MS that people experience, multiple sclerosis is generally a devastating disease. The complete cause of this illness is unknown, although some doctors believe that it may be due to a virus. Others believe that genetic and environmental factors are the probable cause of this disease. Another sad truth about this disease is that there is no known pharmaceutical cure.
While there is no orthodox cure for this destructive illness, natural remedies are used to prevent the progression of the disease and lessen the impact and intensity of its effects. Natural remedies and dietary changes can treat the cause of MS and even reverse damage by assisting with re-myelination. A change in lifestyle is required to prevent the disease from progressing and may prevent patients from developing the more aggressive stages of MS. A healthy and balanced diet and regular exercise are some of the changes required for MS patients, as they go a long way toward both relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.