Multiple sclerosis (MS) itself is not a fatal disease, though it can increase the risk of conditions that can be life-threatening like pneumonia. On average, life expectancy for people with relapsing-remitting MS is about five years shorter than in the general population, though this gap is shrinking as care continues to improve.
In relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), recovery after a relapse is not always complete, and some symptoms can become persistent and cause challenges in day-to-day life. The exact rate of disease progression varies substantially from person to person, but on average, it takes more than three decades from the onset of symptoms until a person with multiple sclerosis requires an aid to walk short distances.
About 85% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) initially develop the relapsing-remitting form of the disease, in which periods of stable symptoms (remissions) are interspersed with relapses where symptoms suddenly worsen. In about 15% of MS cases, patients instead initially develop primary progressive MS, where symptoms gradually worsen in the absence of relapses right from disease onset.
Historically, virtually all people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) have progressed to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). However, with modern disease-modifying treatments, it is becoming increasingly common for people to live with RRMS for decades without progressing to SPMS, and some people with RRMS will go their entire lifetime without developing SPMS.
While the duration of remission in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) varies widely from person to person, it is common for someone with RRMS to stay in remission for months or years, especially with modern treatments.
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