What are the main risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) results when your immune system attacks the cells of the brain and spinal cord. It is an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the body's immune system is misdirected and attacks its own cells.
The exact cause of MS is not known, however, and several factors can put you at risk of getting MS:
- Age: MS can occur at any age, but the most common age group is 15 to 60 years.
- Sex: MS is more common in women than in men.
- Genes: Although MS is not hereditary, you are more likely to get MS if you have a family history of MS.
- Infections: Certain viral and bacterial infections
- Vitamin D deficiency: Low vitamin D levels
- Race: MS is more common among people of northern European or Scandinavian ancestry. Caucasians have a higher chance of getting MS than those of African heritage.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
The factors listed above often act interdependently to cause MS rather than acting in isolation. For example, female individuals with a family history of MS are more likely to get MS compared with those females who have no family history of MS.
Can stress cause MS?
There is no definitive evidence to say that stress is a cause of MS. Stress can, however, make it difficult for a person to manage MS symptoms. Many patients also report that stress triggered their MS symptoms or caused a relapse. In the absence of scientific evidence, stress cannot be considered as a specific cause of developing MS.
For a better quality of life, however, keeping stress under control is advisable. This will improve overall well-being and would also help the physician and the patient judge the response to treatment in a better way.
Regular exercise and mindful eating have been found to control the stress levels and overall health of people with MS.
What are the complications of MS?
MS can lead to the following complications:
- Muscle cramps and stiffness
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Speech problems
- Loss of vision
- Double vision
- Weakness or paralysis
- Loss of memory
- Difficulty in walking
- Mood swings
- Uncontrolled movement of body parts or tremors
- Difficulty in swallowing
What is the life expectancy of a person with MS?
It is not possible to tell with certainty how many years a person with MS will live. MS is generally not considered a fatal disease.
Some studies have suggested that people with MS might have a lower life expectancy than the general population. Researchers have found that over the past three decades, the life expectancy of people with MS has increased. However, when compared with the general population, people with MS may have a 5-10 years shorter life expectancy.
With improvements in the treatment options, people with MS can lead a fairly normal life. Besides seeking treatment for MS, people with MS may need to get treatment for other medical conditions they may have. It is important for those with MS to embrace a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise as it has a great role in improving their overall health and longevity.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Who Gets Multiple Sclerosis. <https://mymsaa.org/ms-information/overview/who-gets-ms/>.
Study Shows Life Expectancy for People with MS Increasing Over Time, But Still Lower Than the General Population. <https://www.nationalmssociety.org/About-the-Society/News/Study-Shows-Life-Expectancy-for-People-with-MS-Inc>.
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