What is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease which interferes with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is characterised by sclerosis – a Greek word meaning scars, which occur within the central nervous system. Depending on where the scars develop, they can manifest into various symptoms.
MS Australia says affects nearly 3 billion people worldwide, and over 33,000 people in Australia. It is most common for people to be diagnosed between 20-40 years of age, however it can affect younger and older people. Women are affected about three times more than men.
What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
MS symptoms are varied and unpredictable, depending on which part of the central nervous system is affected and to what degree. No two cases of MS are the same, and symptoms, depending on where MS lesions develop on the brain and spinal cord, can manifest in many different ways.
Because MS can affect each person’s body differently, and has similar symptoms to many other illnesses, it can be harder to initially diagnose. Symptoms can develop in any order and vary greatly in severity – from almost unnoticeable to very disabling.
These are some of the most common MS symptoms:
- Motor control – difficulties with walking, balance or coordination, muscle spasms or tremors, muscle weakness, slurring or slowing of speech, swallowing difficulties, breathing difficulties, heart problems and dizziness or vertigo.
- Fatigue – according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 80% of people with MS have fatigue and heat sensitivity. The fatigue tends to get worse as the day goes on, often aggravated by heat and humidity.
- Neuropsychological symptoms – including impaired memory and concentration, changes in processing speed and ability, impaired cognitive function, personal and emotional changes, anxiety, depression and difficulties sleeping.
- Neurological symptoms – visual disturbances (such as blurred or double vision, changes in depth perception, partial or complete sight loss), altered sensations such as pins and needles or numbness, neurological pain, and sensitivity to heat or cold.
- Continence care - including bladder incontinence, needing to urinate more or less often, needing to urinate frequently during the night, constipation, diarrhea.
Types of MS
There are three main types of MS: relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS). The classification of disease depends on its activity and progression.
It’s important to identify the type of MS in order to consider the most appropriate therapy for each person, and to assist in the many clinical decisions that need to be made following diagnosis.
There are a number of things that you can do to help keep your brain and body as healthy as possible, including:
- Keep your weight under control
- Adopt a healthy diet
- Avoid smoking
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Engage in mindfulness activities
- Learn about ways to manage stress. MS can cause stress because of its unpredictable nature, but stress in turn can increase your risk of a relapse.
Safety tips for living with MS
It important to help prevent falls by making the home safer – Remove tripping hazards and clutter, place object in easy to reach places, and install handrails where needed.
Mobility and independence go hand in hand. Having the necessary mobility devices and assistive technology can help you to continue living independently for longer.
Consider getting a 24/7 monitored personal alarm so you can get prompt help in an emergency.
How a monitored personal alarm can help people with Multiple Sclerosis
Monitored personal alarms are designed to provide prompt assistance in an emergency, or if you’re feeling unwell. The alarm is activated by a single button press and connects you to the MePACS 24/7 Response Centre.
Our trained monitors will respond to the call within 2 minutes, talk to you through the alarm to assess the situation, and get you the help you need. If emergency services are required they will also provide relevant information so your call can be prioritised.
Which personal alarm should I get?
MePACS offers 3 main types of personal alarms: Home, mobile and watch – all of which connect to our 24/7 monitoring centre.
A small, lightweight and waterproof alarm that only works in your house and garden. It can be worn as pendant or wrist, and includes a base unit that is installed inside your house.
A lightweight 4G device that can be used anywhere within the Telstra 4G network. It has built-in fall detection and GPS location features.
The MePACS Solo watch is a discreet and stylish smart watch that is best suited for people who can use a touchscreen interface and don’t have dexterity limitations. It has automatic falls detection, GPS location, heat monitor and is fully water-resistant. It can be used anywhere within the Telstra 4G network.
The type of alarm you need will be determined by your individual circumstances and personal requirements, but sometimes the best solution is a 2 alarm combo, like home and mobile alarms.
MePACS is an approved HCP and NDIS provider so funding may be available to eligible customers.
To find out more about which alarm is best suited to you please call us on 1800 685 329
*This information does not intend to replace advice from a qualified health professional. Speak to your GP first about any health concerns.