In multiple sclerosis (MS), the immune system attacks and destroys the fatty myelin coating that surrounds and insulates nerve cells in a process known as demyelination. MS is a lifelong condition, and common symptoms include fatigue, muscle spasms, walking difficulties, or numbness and tingling of the face, body, arms, and legs. These symptoms can worsen over time, affecting daily activities and reducing a person’s quality of life.
The disease is highly variable, and some people are affected more than others upon and after diagnosis. Treatments are available to help manage a number of symptoms.
Life expectancy for people with MS has increased considerably in the last 20 to 25 years. On average, however, a person with MS can expect to live seven fewer years than someone without this disease.
According to the National MS Society, on average, an MS patient lives about seven fewer years than someone in the general public, largely because of disease complications or other medical conditions, like cardiovascular disease. Only rarely does the disease progress so quickly that it is deadly.