Although all cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) have damage to the nerves in common, the disease affects individuals differently. Two people with MS may have very different experiences with symptoms and the progression of the disease can be different, too. However, doctors have determined that there are four different kinds of MS. It is important for the person with MS and their family members to know which kind of MS is involved since it will provide them with some insight into what to expect in the future.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
85 percent of people with MS have relapsing-remitting MS. The first symptoms generally appear when the person is in their 20s. The course of the disease involves periods of remission interspersed with periods when symptoms appear. How severe the symptoms are and how quickly the disease progresses varies for each individual. Eventually, though, most people with relapsing-remitting MS progress to having secondary-progressive MS (explained below).
Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis
Progressive relapsing MS is the least common type of MS. Only about 5 percent of people with MS have this form. In fact, it is so rare that doctors don’t know a lot about it yet. With this form, flare-ups happen occasionally, but the symptoms continue without periods of remission. As time goes on, the symptoms worsen.
Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Primary-Progressive MS affects 10 percent of people with MS. Most people who have primary-progressive MS are usually diagnosed in their 40s. With this form, the disease gradually progresses and symptoms get worse over time. There are no periods where symptoms flare-up, but there are also no recovery or remission periods. Treatments aren’t as effective for people with this form. People with this type are usually disabled earlier than people with relapsing-remitting MS.
Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
About 10 to 20 years after people are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, they generally move into having secondary-progressive MS. From there, the disease steadily progresses and there are no more periods of remission.
When a family member has MS, regardless of the type or even the person’s age, hiring an elder care provider through an agency can make managing the disease easier. An elder care provider can help with mobility issues so that the person can safely move around the house. They can also help with things that become difficult due to the disease, especially during flare-ups. Elder care providers can cook, clean, do laundry, and drive a person with MS to appointments and other engagements.