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Multiple Sclerosis (cont.)

What Is the Prognosis and Life Expectancy for a Person with Multiple Sclerosis?

Despite therapies presented in this article, multiple sclerosis is not curable.

  • A minority of people with multiple sclerosis have a very mild form of the disease with little or no disability. Their neurologic disability may barely affect their daily activities, and the disease does not shorten their life span. However, cases of "benign" multiple sclerosis can only be ascertained retrospectively, after many years, and it is therefore not advisable for multiple sclerosis patients doing well to assume this inactive disease state will be permanent.
  • About 65% of people with multiple sclerosis have a relapsing and remitting form of the disease. They have intermittent worsening of their neurologic symptoms that lasts several days or weeks before returning to their original state of health. Some patients, however, are left with residual deficits (residual disability) after some attacks.
  • Most patients with the relapsing and remitting form progress to a stage where relapses become much less frequent, but they continue to accumulate disabling symptoms. This new phase of the disease is termed secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
  • In about 15% of people with multiple sclerosis, a relapsing and progressing course is found. With this type (relapsing-progressive multiple sclerosis), patients have relapses superimposed on a pattern of continuous progression of disability.
  • About 5% to 10% of people with multiple sclerosis have a pure progressive (primary progressive multiple sclerosis) form. Their disability progresses in the absence of attacks over time.
  • Death usually results from other causes such as pneumonia or heart attacks, especially in patients who are bedridden, at the latest stages of the disease.

How Can I Prevent from Getting Multiple Sclerosis?

As of yet, no true way of preventing multiple sclerosis has been found.

When Should You Seek Medical Care for Multiple Sclerosis?

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are very variable and differ from patient to patient. They can also be confused with symptoms of many other conditions. A physician should be notified if you or someone you know has any of the signs and symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. Also check with a doctor if you or someone you know has any signs or symptoms that may not be associated but that are of concern. The person may not have multiple sclerosis, but because of the nonspecific nature of this disease, it is best to let a qualified professional make that determination.

Several of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be severe enough to send the patient to a hospital's emergency department.

  • If visual changes and painful eye movements are experienced, visit the nearest emergency department. The patient could have optic neuritis, one of the most common early signs of multiple sclerosis.
  • If the patient experiences personality changes or sudden loss of strength in the arms and legs they should go to the emergency department for evaluation. These symptoms are common with multiple sclerosis, but they can also be signs of other serious diseases that require urgent treatment such as stroke, infection, or chemical imbalances.


Luzzio, C., MD. "Multiple Sclerosis." Medscape. Updated Jan 27, 2016.

National Instututes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Multiple Sclerosis Information Page.

National MS Society. "What Is MS?"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017

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