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Dealing With the Final Stages of Multiple Sclerosis
A staggering 2.3 million people suffer from MS worldwide, and nearly a million of them live in the US. And with 200 more cases diagnosed each week, this disease has been affecting people and making life more difficult since its discovery. Let’s take a look at what the final stages of MS might look like and how a patient can be made more comfortable.
The Course of MS: Prognosis of MS
There are four stages of MS. However, these stages are unique for every individual as no two people who have MS experience exactly the same path of symptoms.
The following are the general categories of MS that experts use to predict the severity of the complications that come with it. These are also used to know what treatments the patient should try.
This type is what most (around 85%) MS patients have, with the first symptoms occurring in their early 20s. The condition attacks the individual from time to time, which is also called a relapse. And they are then followed by periods of recovery or remission. Those who are in this stage of MS eventually transcend to Secondary Progressive MS.
Secondary Progressive MS
After occurring for 10 to 20 years, the symptoms in Relapsing-Remitting MS become more prevalent, this time, without any relapses and remissions.
The transition is even shorter for people who have been diagnosed with MS at a later age. When the person fails to recover from their relapses, they are also bound to shift to the Secondary Progressive MS faster.
The treatments still work at this stage, but those in the Secondary Progressive MS will find it hard to control their bodies and movements.
Also called Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS), it is where MS goes from worse to worst. At this point, treatments do not work that well anymore, and the individual’s life is greatly affected.
PRMS is attributed to 10% of the population affected by MS. This usually happens to those who were diagnosed at an older age – on average, when they are 40.
Is MS Deadly?
Can you die from MS? You can’t die from MS alone. It is rare for MS to accelerate quickly to the point that it is deadly. MS is not fatal in itself, but the complications that come from it make it life-threatening. These complications include:
- Muscle stiffness or spasms
- Paralysis of the legs, most of the time
- Chronic urinary tract infections
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Bladder infections
What Is the Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy?
So how long do people live after being diagnosed with MS? Those who live with MS typically have lifespans 5 to 10 years shorter than those who don’t have this condition.
The first MS symptoms are identified between the ages of 15 to 50, but the average age of MS diagnosis and onset of these symptoms happens at age 34. Those diagnosed during the ages of 20 to 50 can still live another 25 to 35 years.
There have been significant MS treatments that increased life expectancy as a result of improved lifestyle and better healthcare. Other treatments that can slow the progression of MS include:
- “Disease-modifying” therapies
- The decrease in risk factors such as no smoking or drinking of alcohol
- A healthy diet and proper exercise
What Is End-Stage MS?
When the individual’s MS symptoms worsen to the point that they no longer can’t live independently, they are considered to be in the late-stage MS. These symptoms include:
Exhaustion and Fatigue
The individual has difficulty breathing as their respiratory muscles are already weak. In these instances, oxygen can be provided for the individual.
Decline in Brain Function
They strain their speech, and communication with the individual is rarely understandable. They often forget words and find it frustrating to verbalize their thoughts.
The individual also suffers from bowel and bladder disturbances as there is a problem in the communication between the brain and the detrusor (urine) and sphincter (bladder) muscles. This is common and affects 78% to 90% of individuals with MS.
Depression and mood swings are less recognized than the physical, obvious signs. An individual with MS is more irritable and often has anxiety. Depression in MS patients is also more common than in any other illnesses.
Problems in Vision and Mobility
The individual has impaired vision because of the inflammation of the optic nerve; this can cause blurred or dim sight. They can’t walk or are already confined to their wheelchair – or, perhaps, they are bedridden. They can’t eat on their own as their muscle spasms don’t let them hold their eating utensils properly. There will also be problems with the individuals finding it hard or forgetting to swallow when they are fed.
In attempting to slow the progression of the disorder, the individual’s diet may be compromised, and the skin may act up and break out.
These are caused by muscle spasms and nerve pain. Pressure sores are also developed because of a lack of mobility.
A Closer Look: What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
If a loved one of yours has MS, you may want to know more information on this life-long disease. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease of the central nervous system and happens with the demyelination of the nerve cells.
Demyelination is the damage to the myelin or the nerve cells’ cover, also called the “wires of the nervous system.” This hinders the connection of the nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord, along with other parts of the body.
There is still no definite cause of why MS happens to an individual. And even with the ongoing research and studies surrounding this condition, there is still no cure.
What Are the Common Symptoms of MS?
Symptoms of MS get worse as the condition progresses. Some common ones are as follows:
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness of the face, arms, legs
- Difficulty in walking
What Are the Risk Factors of MS?
The symptoms experienced, the advancement of the disease, and its severity vary in each person. These are also highly dependent on the individual’s risk factors.
The following increases the possibility of an individual to have MS:
- If the individual smokes cigarettes or tobaccos. Smoking deteriorates the immune system, making them more susceptible to any complications such as MS.
- If the individual lives in a location with low temperatures. Those who live in cold places tend to be more vulnerable to getting MS than those who live in warm areas. This may be because of low sunlight exposure.
- If the individual has the Epstein-Barr virus. EBV activates HERV-W/MSRV that has a direct connection with MS.
- If MS runs in the individual’s family. Although there is no clear evidence if MS can be inherited, an individual’s risk increases to up to 5% when their sibling has MS.
Hospice Care for Those in the Late Stage of MS
When it is decided that the individual doesn’t want to pursue any aggressive treatment as an answer to MS, hospice care can be the next step. Focusing on the individual’s quality of life becomes the priority.
As the individual already has difficulty living without support, providing them with proper assistance becomes a must – especially when their MS has already reached the end-stage.
Professional care experts will manage the pain that comes with these symptoms, no matter how severe they may get. The only focus is to help the individual live the remaining of their days as fully as possible.
All American Hospice: The Hospice Care You Need
If you’re looking for the best service that can accommodate you or any loved one who’s already in the final stages of progressive MS, then All American Hospice is all you need. We provide trained and professional caregivers and staff who will work together with your family and the individual to make sure all their wishes are met and that they are able to live their life as comfortably as possible.
Contact us today and let us offer you the support you need in this journey.