How Serious Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Last Editorial Review: 2/13/2018

Ask the experts

How serious is multiple sclerosis? Can you die from multiple sclerosis?

Doctor's response

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own myelin sheaths (the outer coating of the nerves). This depletion of the myelin (demyelination) interrupts the transmission of nerve signals.

The damaged nerves can result in problems with coordination, gait disturbances, and difficulty standing. As the disease progresses, vision, memory, speech, and writing problems may occur.

Multiple sclerosis is not generally the cause of death, but it can be a severely disabling condition. People with MS live slightly less long than those without the condition. This may be due to disease complications or other associated medical problems. However, the life expectancy for MS patients has increased as newer treatments have been developed.

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis but over the past two decades, many new medications have been developed to treat MS. These new drugs have can reduce the number and severity of relapses and delay the long-term progression and complications of MS.

Read our full medical article on multiple sclerosis for more information.

Michael J Olek, DO.
Clinical course and classification of multiple sclerosis.
8 November 2016.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
What Is MS?