Symptoms, Struggles, and Inspiration

If you or a loved one has multiple sclerosis (MS), you know that every day is different. Some are good, some are bad, and you never know which one today is going to be. We've learned a lot about MS from our very own Jerilyn Beesley, who was diagnosed in 1996. She's a cheerful & graceful example of how to live the best life you can while dealing with MS. Listen to her story in the video below:

We want to encourage everyone with MS not to give up...on their health, on the search for a cure, or on protecting their families with life insurance. You can get life insurance. You can get insured. Our underwriter, Mike Woods, is experienced with high-risk life insurance cases, including applicants with MS. Mike himself has diabetes, so he knows what he's talking about when it comes to folks who might be hard to insure! If you've always thought you'd be turned down, give us a call at 800-823-4852 or click the orange button below to get a free quote.

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What is multiple sclerosis?

Lab technician studying cause of multiple sclerosis.
Scientists aren't sure whether MS is caused by a virus, the environment, genetics, or an as-yet-undiscovered factor.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society describes it as "a chronic, often disabling disease." MS causes the body's immune system to attack its own nervous system, which includes the brain, optic nerves, and spinal column. This attack breaks down the fatty coverings of nerve fibers, called myelin.

Over time, myelin generates scar tissue and nerve impulses get interrupted. These interruptions are what cause the symptoms described below. In 85% of patients, MS causes periodic flare-ups, where symptoms worsen and then get better, or appear to vanish completely. That's part of what makes diagnosing and treating MS so frustrating.

Although scientists don't know exactly what triggers MS, they have a few ideas:

  • Environmental factors
    • One explanation proposes that some factor in a victim's environment triggers MS. Few people who live near the equator have MS, so one theory is that a lack of vitamin D (which you produce naturally in sunlight) might trigger the disease. Other theories include industrial toxins or metal exposure.
  • Genetics
    • If an immediate family member has MS, there's a stronger chance you will, too. It's possible that certain genes make people vulnerable to the kind of environmental factors mentioned above, which would explain multiple family members having MS.
  • Immune Response
    • Scientists are trying to figure out what causes a person's immune system to begin attacking the body's myelin. We know the immune system targets something in particular, called an antigen, but we don't know what that antigen is.
  • Infection
    • It's also possible that a virus or bacteria causes MS. Viruses are the culprit when it comes to other types of inflammation, but scientists have yet to prove that a virus is behind MS. The viruses and bacteria that cause other diseases are being carefully investigated, including measles and Epstein-Barr.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
Not all MS sufferers experience the same symptoms.

What are the symptoms of MS?

MS affects everyone differently, but common symptoms include numbness, paralysis, and loss of vision. The degree to which someone experiences these symptoms can vary on a daily basis. Unfortunately, MS is more common in women than in men. Most people start experiencing symptoms between age 20 and age 40.

The National MS Society breaks down symptoms into more common and less common symptoms:

More Common Symptoms

  • fatigue
  • numbness, including a feeling of "pins and needles"
  • balance problems
  • dizziness and vertigo
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • depression and emotional changes

Because of fatigue, dizziness, and balance problems, people with MS may not be as active as they should be in order to keep good muscle tone, posture, bone density, and more. One important part of staying healthy with MS is remaining active. For example, Jerilyn always takes the stairs in our building to make sure she's keeping her muscles exercised.

Less Common Symptoms

  • hearing loss
  • breathing problems
  • headaches
  • speech disorders
  • seizures

Whether you have more common or less common symptoms, you can still get life insurance. We help clients with impaired risk get insured all the time. If you need help getting insured, give us a call at 800-823-4852 or click the orange button below for a fast, free quote.

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How is MS treated?

There are several different treatments people with MS can use to help control the disease. Only your doctor can advise you on the proper course of treatment based on your individual medical history and symptoms.

  • Drug therapy. There are currently nine drugs approved by the FDA for treating MS symptoms. These drugs can't make the symptoms go away entirely, but they can help reduce the severity of outbreaks and the discomfort caused by the symptoms. Two of them are pills taken orally, most are intramuscular injections, and two are given by IV infusion in a medical facility. According to the National MS Society, in clinical trials, MS attacks were reduced between 28 and 68% for patients taking a disease-modifying medication as opposed to a placebo treatment. Remember, only your doctor can prescribe an appropriate treatment. Drugs can be used to:
    • Modify the overall course of MS
    • Treat individual attacks where symptoms become exacerbated
    • Improve your daily life and function through control of the disease
  • Lifestyle adjustments. For some, change to their diet and exercise regimen can help reduce MS symptoms or outbreaks. The National MS Society collects the strategies under the term "complementary and alternative medicine." They stress that you should not give up or stop traditional treatment, but use these strategies alongside traditional treatment to improve quality of life.
    • Diet: The National MS Society recommends people with MS adopt a high fiber, low fat diet.
    • Exercise: Adding exercise to your daily routine can help reduce fatigue and stave off muscle loss. If you're not comfortable or not able to exercise regularly, even gentle stretching can help increase your flexibility and mobility.

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Can I get life insurance with MS?

Yes. We can help. Because your case is special, please give us a call. You can use our standard quoter to get an idea of what you might pay, but be aware that we can often get you better rates by working directly with carriers that we know well and who have insured high-risk applicants before.

If you’re ready to talk about applying for life insurance with multiple sclerosis, give us a call at 1-800-823-4852.

Walk MS 2013 Was a Success!

To support Jerilyn and others with MS, Trusted Quote participated in the 2013 Walk MS event in Folsom, California. Overall, the event raised $58, 315 for MS research and support programs. We encourage all our readers to support this worthy cause any way you can. Until next year's event, check out our awesome event video:

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National Multiple Sclerosis Society
U.S. National Library of Medicine's Medline Plus