Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Last update: 15 June, 2015

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that prevents the transmission of impulses from the nerves to the brain. It is more commonly diagnosed in people aged between 20 and 40 years old.

This condition may become debilitating and can affect almost all areas of the body. The onset and worsening of symptoms can be slowed with medication and adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle.

What causes multiple sclerosis?

During the onset of multiple sclerosis the myelin sheaths in our body and the bone marrow are affected. The protective myelin sheath covers the nerves and the damage caused by scelorisis plaque alter or prevent our nerves from transmitting signals correctly to our brains.

The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown but it is thought to be a hereditary or viral condition. Your chances of being affected are also increased by certain environmental factors. 

A diagnosis of multiple scleroris is likely to result in:

  • depression
  • complications from medication
  • thinning of the bones (osteoperosis)
  • infections of the urinary system
  • weight loss
  • difficulty swallowing
  • diminished ability to care for yourself.

    Multiple Sclerosis
    MS affects the way our nerves transmit impulses to our brains.

Living with multiple sclerosis

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis may not initially affect your life too much, as symptoms vary from individual to individual and some people may only be affected for days or weeks at a time. Whatever your diagnosis, relapses can occur and symptoms can worsen in accordance with the lifestyle you lead.

Stress, infection, hot baths and being exposed to the sun have all been linked to relapses.

As the disease is intrinsically bound up with the central nervous system, the range of symptoms is very wide and can affect most areas of the body.

Eye symptoms

These may include:

  • the loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • double vision
  • burning eyes
  • unusual and uncontrollable eye movements.

Bladder and intestinal symptoms

These can include:

  • a frequent need to urinate
  • incontinence
  • constipation
  • difficulty when beginning to urinate
  • leakage of the stools.

Muscular symptoms

These can include:

  • spasms
  • weakness in the limbs
  • pain
  • numbness
  • lack of balance
  • decreased mobility
  • problems with coordination
  • tingling, stinging or burning in the limbs.

Neurological symptoms

These can include:

  • partial deafness
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • imbalance
  • loss of memory
  • impaired comprehension and logic
  • attention deficit.

Other symptoms

These may include:

  • vaginal dryness
  • erectile dysfunction
  • eating problems
  • extreme fatigue
  • inappropriate gesturing.


Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has no cure at present, but there are therapies which slow down the rate of degeneration and can make living with this condition more manageable.

The medications used for MS treat the various symptoms involved. They include fingolimod (Gilenya), amantadine for fatigue, anti-depressants, cholinergic medication for urinary symptoms and various drugs to control muscle spasms. Your GP and specialist will discuss which medications are the most appropriate for your diagnosis.

In addition to medication, many patients attend support and therapy groups to assist with alleviating their symptoms. These groups can offer:

  • regular and supported exercise
  • occupational therapy
  • speech therapy
  • physiotherapy
  • support with depression
  • dietary advice.

Support groups offer access to information such as how to modify your home to prevent falls or what kind of diet is best for your diagnosis. They can be a means of accessing living aids like bed elevators, wheelchairs or walking aids.