Is Multiple Sclerosis Fatal?

Is Multiple Sclerosis Fatal?

Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis will have anyone questioning their life span and how the rest of their life will pan out. If you ask how long you can live with MS, the answer is a mixed bag. In the past, those with MS had a significantly lower life expectancy than those who did not have MS; however, this disparity has narrowed drastically in recent years. And while better therapies appear to be a major factor, you may do a lot to ensure a long and healthy life.

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What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis affects the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. This chronic and unpredictable disease affects the body’s immune system by attacking the brain cell.

Demyelination of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord is a hallmark of Multiple Sclerosis. Axons (the parts of the nerve cells that transmit impulses to neighboring cells) are impaired when this happens. Myelin works as an electrical wire’s insulation. Its loss causes axons to lose their ability to carry impulses, resulting in symptoms in patients when more areas or nerves are impacted. The patient’s symptoms are linked to the body area that has been damaged. As demyelination progresses, lesions or plaques can be seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) investigations due to inflammation and subsequent harm.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis To Develop?

This is still a mystery, but most doctors believe it starts when an environmental stimulus, such as a virus, triggers an inflammatory response in someone genetically predisposed to the condition. MS symptoms begin when the autoimmune attack inflames the myelin sheath, protecting nerve fibers.

There are numerous other hypotheses about why people get MS, from a Vitamin D deficiency to overconsumption of salt. However, none of these suggestions have been confirmed, and the cause of MS is still unknown. It is not contagious and cannot be transmitted to another.

What Are the Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Vision problems and eye pain are early indicators of MS. Other symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers, face, or other parts of the body.
  • Difficulty walking and balancing.
  • Heat sensitivity can appear as dizziness, faintness, or acute pain in hot weather or while bathing or showering.

Types of MS

There have been four types of MS identified.


The Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is the most often diagnosed form of MS. The symptoms are easily treated and resolved. However, the symptoms are aggressive and tend to relapse, ranging from weeks to a year.


Secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis is identified when the complications associated with a flare do not resolve completely after remission. This is frequently the case with patients originally diagnosed with RRMS. Patients with increasing debility are identified over time.


Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, as the name suggests, will get worse with time.

There will not be remissions of scope for improvements in terms of symptoms.


Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed when the symptoms escalate over time, and they suffer multiple intermittent episodes of relapses.

The Evolution of MS and its Risk Factors

It isn’t easy to forecast how long you can live with MS and how quickly it will advance in any individual. The disease’s severity varies greatly from person to person. Approximately 45 percent of people with MS do not have significant symptoms.

The majority of people with MS will see some degree of disease progression. Understanding the potential risks that may suggest a higher likelihood of acquiring an extreme version of the ailment will help you assess your prognosis. Certain factors, such as the following, suggest an increased chance of more severe symptoms:

  • If you’re above 40 by the initial symptoms arrive.
  • Your symptoms affect multiple parts of your body.
  • The symptoms affect your motor skills and urinary control.

Is Multiple Sclerosis Fatal?

Life expectancy has increased due to advancements in technology. However, MS patients have a seven-year shorter life expectancy than the general population. Many of these issues are preventable. Overall wellness can reduce the chance of medical conditions like heart disease and stroke, shortening life expectancy. MS can progress rapidly and be fatal in rare situations. But is MS fatal by itself? No.

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What Does End Stage MS Look Like?

End-stage Multiple Sclerosis occurs when a patient with Multiple Sclerosis begins to develop progressively severe problems. Patients with end-stage MS may have the following symptoms:

  • Reduced Movement – The patient may be unable to carry out daily tasks without assistance. They will most likely be confined to a bed or a chair. They may be unable to assist with grooming or other forms of self-care.
  • Breathing problems – Patients struggle to breathe effectively because of weakened respiratory muscles and excessive respiratory secretions.
  • Difficulties eating – MS patients may face a range of obstacles that make eating difficult. Tremors and muscle spasms, for example, make it difficult to grip utensils. As muscles weaken, they may have difficulty physically swallowing food. Even if someone else is feeding them, patients with cognitive impairment may forget to eat or swallow.
  • Issues Communicating – Patients may have difficulty forming words and expressing their requirements verbally.
  • Neurological deterioration – Alterations in brain function and mental status become more noticeable. Mood swings and despair are also common in some patients.
  • Agony – Muscle spasms, nerve pain, and pressure sores from immobility can all produce excruciating pain that can be difficult to manage without the help of hospice care experts who specialize in pain management at the end of life.
  • Skin problems – Skin breakdown, muscle atrophy, and severe decubitus ulcers are caused by a lack of nutrition and limited mobility.
If a patient has any of the symptoms listed above, they may be eligible for hospice treatment. A hospice examination should be conducted as soon as possible to ensure that the patient receives the care they require to live as comfortably as possible before their MS death.

Why Is Long-Term Care Important?

If you need 24-hour care, a nursing home may be the best alternative. They usually help in two ways:

  • Basic care includes bathing, feeding, and moving.
  • Registered nurses physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists are examples of skilled health workers.
Room and board are typically provided, as are social and recreational activities and emergency treatment available 24/7.

Choosing a nursing home can be daunting. Get recommendations, do as much research online and over the phone as you can, then visit a few. Consider these points:

  • Institution. Do they have a valid license? Is it equipped with MS-friendly doors, railings, and other safety features? Is it a venue for social and recreational activities?
  • Admittance. Is there a list of participants? How do you get in? Is a formal care plan in place for the residents? How often are residents reevaluated?
  • Money worries Inclusions and exclusions in the base charge. How do they bill and pay? Is Medicare, Medicaid, or LTC accepted? Have fees recently increased?
  • Professionals. Do they have MS? Can they work with your current medical team? When are they available? How do they interact with the locals?
  • Medication and health care are two things that come to mind. What are the medication storage and help policies? How do they set up therapy appointments? Do the residents get regular doctor or nurse visits? How do they handle an emergency?
  • Food. Can they accommodate specialized diets? Allergic reactions are an uncommon cause of death in Multiple Sclerosis, and we want to make sure it stays that way.

When Should You Consider Hospice?

Someone with the final stages of MS can be stable for a long time before deteriorating. This makes starting hospice care challenging.

Doctors use tools like the Karnofsky Performance Status Scale to assess your handicap and forecast your prognosis. If your score is below 50%, and you’re suffering from the end stages of Multiple Sclerosis, hospice care may be right for you.

However, it would help if you started looking into hospices when you have the following symptoms.

  • Lose a lot of weight
  • Have several major health issues
  • Develop pressure ulcers
  • Breathing difficulties or unwillingness

Concluding Thoughts

As your Multiple Sclerosis final stages worsen, you may need more help with daily tasks and personal care. Living alone may become impossible. Deciding between your options may push you to feel helpless but don’t worry. At All American Hospice, our caregivers are trained to give you a better quality of life while helping you retain as much self-sufficiency as possible. Reach out today to learn more.

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