Coping with Disability

Probably everyone reading this will have or know someone with a disabilty of some kind. The list of disabilities is endless.

I myself was born with slight Cerebral Palsy which later in life contributed to me developing Epilepsy. Although my seizures are controlled by medication I sltill suffer the odd Focal or Partial seizure (though i haven’t had any for weeks).

My Cerebral Palsy is giving me more cause for concern at the moment as I keep loosing my balance.

Fortunately because of my positive mind I think I try not to let my disabilities get me down .

For more information check the link below

How to Emotionally Cope With Having Disabilities: 14 Steps (wikihow.com)

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause a wide range of symptoms and can affect any part of the body. Each person with the condition is affected differently.

The symptoms are unpredictable. Some people’s symptoms develop and worsen steadily over time, while for others they come and go.

Periods when symptoms get worse are known as “relapses”. Periods when symptoms improve or disappear are known as “remissions”.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

Most people with MS only have a few of these symptoms.

See your GP if you’re worried you might have early signs of MS. The symptoms can be similar to several other conditions, so they’re not necessarily caused by MS. 

Read more about diagnosing MS

Fatigue

Feeling fatigued is one of the most common and troublesome symptoms of MS.

It’s often described as an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that means it’s a struggle to carry out even the simplest activities.

Fatigue can significantly interfere with your daily activities and tends to get worse towards the end of each day, in hot weather, after exercising, or during illness.

Vision problems

In around one in four cases of MS, the first noticeable symptom is a problem with one of your eyes (optic neuritis). You may experience:

  • some temporary loss of vision in the affected eye, usually lasting for days to weeks
  • colour blindness 
  • eye pain, which is usually worse when moving the eye
  • flashes of light when moving the eye

Other problems that can occur in the eyes include:

  • double vision
  • involuntary eye movements, which can make it seem as though stationary objects are jumping around

Occasionally, both of your eyes may be affected.

Abnormal sensations

Abnormal sensations can be a common initial symptom of MS.

This often takes the form of numbness or tingling in different parts of your body, such as the arms, legs or trunk, which typically spreads out over a few days.

Muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness

MS can cause your muscles to:

  • contract tightly and painfully (spasm)
  • become stiff and resistant to movement (spasticity)
  • feel weak

Mobility problems

MS can make walking and moving around difficult, particularly if you also have muscle weakness and spasticity (see above). You may experience:

  • clumsiness
  • difficulty with balance and co-ordination (ataxia)
  • shaking of the limbs (tremor)
  • dizziness and vertigo, which can make it feel as though everything around you is spinning

Pain

Some people with MS experience pain, which can take two forms:

  • Pain caused by MS itself (neuropathic pain) – this is pain caused by damage to the nervous system. This may include stabbing pains in the face and a variety of sensations in the trunk and limbs, including feelings of burning, pins and needles, hugging or squeezing. Muscle spasms can sometimes be painful.
  • Musculoskeletal pain – back, neck and joint pain can be indirectly caused by MS, particularly for people who have problems walking or moving around that puts pressure on their lower back or hips.

Problems with thinking, learning and planning

Some people with MS have problems with thinking, learning and planning – known as cognitive dysfunction. This can include:

  • problems learning and remembering new things – long-term memory is usually unaffected
  • slowness in processing lots of information or multi-tasking
  • a shortened attention span
  • getting stuck on words
  • problems with understanding and processing visual information, such as reading a map
  • difficulty with planning and problem solving – people often report that they know what they want to do, but can’t grasp how to do it
  • problems with reasoning, such as mathematical laws or solving puzzles

However, many of these problems aren’t specific to MS and can be caused by a wide range of other conditions, including depression and anxiety, or even some medications.

Mental health issues

Many people with MS experience periods of depression. It’s unclear whether this is directly caused by MS, or is due to the stress of having to live with a long-term condition, or both.

Anxiety can also be a problem for people with MS, possibly due to the unpredictable nature of the condition.

In rare cases, people with MS can experience rapid and severe mood swings, suddenly bursting into tears, laughing or shouting angrily for no apparent reason.

Sexual problems

MS can have an effect on sexual function.

Men with MS often find it hard to obtain or maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction). They may also find it takes a lot longer to ejaculate when having sex or masturbating, and may even lose the ability to ejaculate altogether.

For women, problems include difficulty reaching orgasm, as well as decreased vaginal lubrication and sensation.

Both men and women with MS may find they are less interested in sex than they were before. This could be directly related to MS, or it could be the result of living with the condition.

Bladder problems

Bladder problems are common in MS. They may include:

  • having to pee more frequently
  • having a sudden, urgent need to pee, which can lead to unintentionally passing urine (urge incontinence)
  • difficulty emptying the bladder completely
  • having to get up frequently during the night to pee
  • recurrent urinary tract infections

These problems can also have a range of causes other than MS.

Bowel problems

Many people with MS also have problems with their bowel function.

Constipation is the most common problem. You may find passing stools difficult and pass them much less frequently than normal.

Bowel incontinence is less common, but is often linked to constipation. If a stool becomes stuck, it can irritate the wall of the bowel, causing it to produce more fluid and mucus that can leak out of your bottom.

Again, some of these problems aren’t specific to MS and can even be the result of medications, such as medicines prescribed for pain.

Speech and swallowing difficulties

Some people with MS experience difficulty chewing or swallowing (dysphagia) at some point.

Speech may also become slurred, or difficult to understand (dysarthria)

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  1. About multiple sclerosis
  2. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
  3. Causes of multiple sclerosis
  4. Diagnosing multiple sclerosis
  5. Treating multiple sclerosis
  6. Living with multiple sclerosis

About multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.

It’s a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild. In many cases, it’s possible to treat symptoms. Average life expectancy is slightly reduced for people with MS.

It’s estimated that there are more than 100,000 people diagnosed with MS in the UK.

It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any age. It’s about two to three times more common in women than men.

Symptoms of MS

The symptoms of MS vary widely from person to person and can affect any part of the body.

The main symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty walking
  • vision problems, such as blurred vision
  • problems controlling the bladder
  • numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
  • muscle stiffness and spasms
  • problems with balance and co-ordination
  • problems with thinking, learning and planning

Depending on the type of MS you have (see below), your symptoms may come and go in phases, or get steadily worse over time (progress).

Read more about the symptoms of MS

Getting medical advice

See your GP if you’re worried you might have early signs of MS.

The early symptoms often have many other causes, so they’re not necessarily a sign of MS. Let your GP know about the specific pattern of symptoms you’re experiencing.

If you GP thinks you could have MS, you’ll be referred to a neurologist (a specialist in conditions of the nervous system), who may suggest tests such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to check for features of MS.

Read more about diagnosing MS

Types of MS

MS starts in one of two general ways: with individual relapses (attacks or exacerbations) or with gradual progression.

Relapsing-remitting MS

More than 8 out of every 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the “relapsing remitting” type.

Someone with relapsing remitting MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as “relapses”. These typically worsen over a few days, last for days to weeks to months, then slowly improve over a similar time period.

Relapses often occur without warning, but are sometimes associated with a period of illness or stress.

The symptoms of a relapse may disappear altogether, with or without treatment, although some symptoms often persist, with repeated attacks happening over several years.

Periods between attacks are known as periods of “remission”. These can last for years at a time.

After many years (usually decades), many, but not all people, with relapsing remitting MS go on to develop secondary progressive MS. In this type of MS, symptoms gradually worsen over time without obvious attacks. Some people continue to have infrequent relapses during this stage.

Around half of people with relapsing remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS within 15-20 years, and the risk of this happening increases the longer you have the condition.

Primary progressive MS

Just over 1 in 10 people with the condition start their MS with a gradual worsening of symptoms.

In primary progressive MS, symptoms gradually worsen and accumulate over several years, and there are no periods of remission, though people often have periods where their condition appears to stabilise.

What causes MS?

MS is an autoimmune condition. This is when something goes wrong with the immune system and it mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body – in this case, the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system.

In MS, the immune system attacks the layer that surrounds and protects the nerves, called the myelin sheath. This damages and scars the sheath, and potentially the underlying nerves, meaning that messages travelling along the nerves become slowed or disrupted.

Exactly what causes the immune system to act in this way is unclear, but most experts think a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved.

Read more about the causes of MS

Treatments for MS

There’s currently no cure for MS, but a number of treatments can help control the condition.

The treatment you need will depend on the specific symptoms and difficulties you have. It may include:

  • treating relapses with short courses of steroid medication to speed up recovery
  • specific treatments for individual MS symptoms
  • treatment to reduce the number of relapses with medicines called disease-modifying therapies

Disease-modifying therapies may also help to slow or reduce the overall worsening of disability of MS in people with relapsing remitting MS, and in people with secondary progressive MS who are still having relapses.

Unfortunately, there’s currently no treatment that can slow the progress of primary progressive MS or secondary progressive MS in the absence of relapses. Many therapies aiming to treat progressive MS are currently being researched.

Read more about how MS is treated and living with MS

Outlook

MS can be a challenging condition to live with, but new treatments over the past 20 years have considerably improved the quality of life of people with the condition.

MS itself is rarely fatal, but complications may arise from severe MS, such as chest or bladder infections, or swallowing difficulties.

The average life expectancy for people with MS is around 5 to 10 years lower than average, and this gap appears to be getting smaller all the time.