Understanding multiple sclerosis

Understanding multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is much more common than people think, yet many of us don’t consider the impact being diagnosed with this lifelong condition could have on our lives.

April 25-May 1 is multiple sclerosis awareness week, which aims to increase awareness of the condition and the effect it can have on people. It affects 1 in 500 people in the UK, equivalent to over 130,000 people, and living with MS symptoms can be enormously challenging.

Here, we explain what multiple sclerosis is, what the symptoms are, and how having protection can provide peace of mind that at least financial stresses and strains will be taken care of if you are ever diagnosed with it.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition which affects your nerves. It results in the immune system not working properly so that instead of fighting infection, it attacks the nerves by mistake. Multiple sclerosis can affect many parts of the body and everyone’s MS is different. Nearly three times as many women have MS as men and most people are diagnosed with MS in their 30s or 40s, although the first signs are often there earlier than this.

What are the symptoms of MS?

Multiple sclerosis symptoms can be unpredictable, and will vary from person to person but some of the most common symptoms are:

• Fatigue
• Numbness or tingling
• Eye problems
• Dizziness
• Shaking
• Forgetting things
• Difficulties walking or talking
• Bladder or bowel problems
• Emotional issues, such as depression

Although there’s currently no cure for MS, there is ongoing progress with research into drugs that can slow its development.

There are things those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis may be able to do to help manage their symptoms, for example, such as counselling to discuss any concerns and avoiding stress where possible, and exercising regularly to help reduce muscle stiffness.

The broader impact of multiple sclerosis

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, especially if this happens relatively early on in life, can have a massive impact not only on your physical and emotional wellbeing but also on your financial situation.

Many people find that over time their symptoms make it difficult, or even impossible to work, or that they may need to pay for additional care to help them manage the physical effects of their illness. There are various types of protection policies which cover multiple sclerosis and may help alleviate financial concerns for those affected.

For example, it is one of the conditions that would be covered under a critical illness policy, and in fact for many providers, it is among the illnesses with the highest number of claims paid. Although having a tax-free cash sum paid out on diagnosis of MS can’t remove the symptoms or pain it can cause, it can help to ease your money worries ,as well as providing you with funds to support any additional therapies you may need.

Income protection is another policy that may help following a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, and starts paying out if you are unable to work. This can provide some comfort that, as your condition progresses, you will have an ongoing income, enabling you to focus on managing and controlling your symptoms rather than worrying about money.

There are also additional benefits to consider if you’re contemplating protection. Many policies include extras such as counselling and support services, and access to therapies like physiotherapy. They often provide medical helplines too, so that if you have any particular concerns or are struggling to manage certain symptoms, an expert is on hand to help.

If you would like to find out more about critical illness cover or income protection, call one of our expert protection advisers today on 0800 073 1932 for free, no obligation advice.

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