Ready for some good news? In the past few decades the status of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has transformed from an untreatable, incurable disease to an illness that could be close to being beaten for good!
MS treatments have come a long way. Nowadays there are dozens of treatments available that make MS more manageable. And with new treatments coming out year after year, the journey towards a cure for MS is well underway.
What exactly is MS?
It’s best to begin by defining the name. ‘Sclerosis’ refers to the hardening or scarring of tiny patches of tissue on the brain and spinal cord. We’re pretty confident you know what ‘multiple’ means. So MS means multiple scarring occurring on the brain and spinal cord. It’s fairly rare, with about one in every 600 people diagnosed in the UK. MS is three-times more common in women than men.
No one yet knows what causes MS, but we know how it functions. MS causes the immune system to mistakenly attack a protein called ‘myelin’ that insulates nerves. This disrupts messages passed from the brain along nerves to different parts of the body. So essentially the brain can no longer communicate with the body as well as it once did, leading to symptoms like fatigue, slowed thinking, numbness or weakness in limbs and eyesight problems. It's a disease that affects each individual differently. Some live with their condition for decades with few symptoms. Others become confined to a wheelchair within a few years of diagnosis.
Is there a cure for MS?
No. Not yet.
Most (but not all) of those living with MS are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. 85% of people with MS have the ‘relapsing remitting’ type of the disease. This means that they have ‘attacks’ lasting weeks or months, that then fade and a full or good recovery is usually made. These attacks tend to occur once or twice a year.
In around 50% of patients relapsing remitting MS will progress over time to ‘secondary progressive’ MS. With this type of MS there are fewer attacks, but the patient’s general level of disability increases over time. For some this can happen gradually, but for others health can deteriorate rapidly. ‘Primary progressive’ MS is the worst and rarest form of the disease, where disability rapidly increases.
What help is available to people living with MS?
Thanks to decades of research someone with MS today has more options available for treating the condition than ever before. Disease Modifying Treatments (DMTs) have grown in their availability and usefulness, helping people with MS to lead relatively normal lives by slowing and weakening relapses and attacks and reducing scarring in the Central Nervous System (CNS). Along with DMTs people with MS can use painkillers, physiotherapy and exercise to help mitigate the symptoms of MS and manage the degenerative nature of the condition.
But the really exciting thing is that researchers are closer than ever before to beating the disease. There are more treatments being developed right now than there ever has been. And scientists are making headway in managing the symptoms of MS, identifying risks and protecting the CNS against MS damage. Now, as ever, the MS Trust is helping people with MS by funding research and medical support for those in need.
Can you help?
Great! On the 23rd to the 29th of April the MS Trust is inspiring people all over the country with the Be Bold in Blue campaign. Since 2011 they’ve raised £105,000, which is a great start but it’s only the beginning! So what can you do? Well, some supporters are dying their hair blue. Others are painting their nails. Or selling cakes. Or tap dancing. Get your own fundraising guide here and let’s send MS packing!
MS travel insurance
Getting travel insurance when you are living with MS can be stressful. Some insurers may dramatically inflate your premium. Others may turn you away altogether. Here at World First we believe that everyone is entitled to travel insurance at a price that’s fair.
Thanks to a unique medical screening process we are able to gauge the nuances of your condition and create policies that match you and your travel plans. That tends to result in premiums that are refreshingly affordable - without sacrificing the cover you need to travel in confidence.
Add in the fact that we have been innovating medical travel insurance since 1979 and you see why they call us the experts in medical travel insurance. Find out more about our multiple sclerosis travel insurance. Or give us a call on 0345 90 80 161.