People with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Ireland have a much poorer quality of life than the general population, new research has revealed.
According to the findings, the quality of life of those with MS is 32% lower than those without the condition. Furthermore men with MS have a 5% lower quality of life than women with MS.
MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system, which causes a gradual degeneration of the nerves. This results in a progressive deterioration in various functions controlled by the nervous system, such as vision, speech and movement.
Around 9,000 Irish people are affected.
This latest research was carried out by MS Ireland and Novartis and it looked at people's quality of life in relation to areas such as mobility, self-care, pain and depression.
It found that almost 80% of people with MS experience pain and discomfort, while 78% cannot complete activities of daily living, such as washing and getting dressed.
Some 72% have problems with mobility and 60% have experienced anxiety and depression as a result of their condition.
The research also noted that just 43% of Irish people with MS work, which is well below the EU average of 60%. Those who are employed tend to have a better quality of life, underlining the importance of working as long as possible.
"Quality of life is often overlooked in a person's care, but with a disease like MS, the impact on quality of life can be staggering and can compound clinical symptoms as well. What is clear is that early diagnosis leads to earlier treatment which can help to delay progression of the disease. It is very clear that the longer we can keep people at the earlier stage of the disease, the better their quality of life will be," commented Prof Tim Lynch, a consultant neurologist at the Mater Hospital in Dublin
Also speaking about the findings, MS Ireland CEO, Ava Battles, noted that MS is generally diagnosed at a young age ‘and weighs heavily on a person's life'.
"Family, work, social and personal life can all be impacted by the disease and for the first time we can now quantify this. We need everyone involved in the care of MS - people with MS and their loved ones, healthcare professionals, government - to work together to improve access to services, treatment and supports so we can improve life outcomes for people living with the disease," she explained.
MS Ireland and Novartis have rolled out a series of ‘MS Life Hacks', which have been crowd sourced from people living with the condition. The hacks are based on real-life experiences and aim to help people overcome some of the issues they may face, from buying clothes to opening jars to managing medication.
For more on this, search #LifeWithMS on social media or click here
MS Ireland released these findings to mark World MS Day (May 31).
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