Multiple sclerosisAround 130.000 people in Germany are currently affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). Most of them have a job. Are well integrated into everyday life. But sufferers have to fight many preconceptions – such as that multiple sclerosis is a fatal disease and that patients are wheelchair-bound. However, this is only the case in a few patients.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the nervous system, which often takes a relapsing course, but can have very different manifestations. Often alternate symptom-free periods. Severe disease periods from. "The disease does not have to be obvious. That's why it's also called the disease of a thousand faces," Eva Koch, head of MS projects at the non-profit Hertie Foundation, tells the news agency dpa. No two courses of the disease would be the same. The disease cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be alleviated with medication, gymnastics and other measures.
MS is classified as one of the so-called autoimmune diseases. In the process, immune cells that normally fight pathogens trigger severe inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. This is why the affected nerves fail. Patients' symptoms can be as diverse as they are. They range from visual disturbances, paralysis, dizzy spells and muscle cramps to permanent fatigue, lack of concentration or depression. "The spectrum of the disease is broad, and so is its unpredictability," says physician Koch.
Two thirds of patients are women
Most MS patients are between 20 and 40 years old at diagnosis, two-thirds of them female. Even after contracting the disease, it is usually still possible to be active in everyday life and to have children. The environment of those affected should therefore react with understanding – but not with exaggerated pity. Many of the MS patients are still relatively resilient after the disease, can participate in excursions or leisure activities.
For the professional life the diagnosis MS does not have to mean the end. Many patients can still pursue their jobs for decades, often even until regular retirement age. However, depending on the clinical picture, activities that are associated with a high level of physical stress, such as those that require a lot of walking and standing, should be avoided. Shift work and piecework should also be avoided. Many employers support the employment of MS patients by setting up workplaces suitable for the disabled. Information is available from health insurance companies, the counseling centers of the German Multiple Sclerosis Society (DMSG), employment agencies or integration offices.
There are many options for financial provision: From occupational disability insurance, when one can no longer perform one's original job, to long-term care insurance, to severe illness insurance.
Multiple sclerosis (MS – encephalomyelitis disseminata)
Multiple sclerosis (abbreviated MS, also encephalomyelitis disseminata): Progressive inflammatory destruction of the myelin sheaths around the processes of the nerve cells with corresponding neurological signs. Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological diseases. Occurs for the first time mainly in people between 20 and 40 years of age. Rule of thumb: The older the affected person is at the onset of the disease, the milder it is. However, this rule has exceptions.
Signs can vary greatly depending on the region of the central nervous system where the damage occurs. Examples of multiple sclerosis are:
Impaired vision: Is often the first sign of multiple sclerosis. The optic nerve is inflamed and patients complain of blurred vision or double vision.
Disabling sensations: Tingling sensations, as if ants were running over the skin, a feeling of furiness, or reduced sensitivity to temperature and pain stimuli
Paralysis: Affects mainly the legs. Patients show a very typical wobbly, wide-legged, toddling gait pattern. In the further course, the ability to move can be completely lost
Speech disorders: Patients can pronounce words only indistinctly
Change in mood: The physical signs cause a depressed mood, which occasionally tends to depression. Paradoxically, many patients with multiple sclerosis also react with inappropriate cheerfulness (euphoria)
Course of the disease
Relapsing course: Patients experience a phase in which the signs of the disease can intensify massively. This is followed by a period in which the deficits partially or completely regress. The first episode of the disease is not necessarily followed by another one. Some patients, on the other hand, suffer such relapses at regular intervals, so that their clinical picture progressively worsens
Slowly progressive course (chronic progressive): Patients do not suffer relapses, but a gradual increase in the signs of the disease. This course is particularly frequent when the disease begins at an older age.
Treatment Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is not curable. However, medications are available that have a favorable influence on the course of the disease. These are mainly anti-inflammatory preparations that are intended to interrupt the destruction process at the nerve sheaths. In the phase after a relapse, specially tailored physiotherapy and occupational therapy are suitable for strengthening any abilities that are still present. Patients with progressive courses also benefit from physical therapy. It is important that patients do not overexert themselves, as this can lead to worsening of the signs of the disease.
Multiple sclerosis care
The focus of the nursing measures is the assistance in the performance of daily living activities. As with all chronic illnesses, it is very important to talk to the patient in an appropriate way.