my ms team

It’s not something anyone wants to think about, but when you get a diagnosis like multiple sclerosis (MS), almost everyone starts to worry — “How long will I live? What’s my life expectancy?”

People often associate chronic (ongoing) conditions with death, so it’s no wonder that when you or someone you know is diagnosed with MS, you start thinking of mortality. One MyMSTeam member summed it up with, “I have a very real fear that MS will shorten my life drastically.”

So what is the life expectancy for people with MS? There isn’t one clear answer. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates that, on average, someone with MS lives about seven years less than the general population. A study of 30,000 people in the United States with MS found they lived six years less, on average, than those without MS.

MS itself is not the cause of death because MS is not fatal. Rather, the symptoms caused by the progression of MS can lead to other conditions that are ultimately fatal. Pneumonia, infections, and falls are common causes of death directly connected to MS symptoms.

“MS is not a fatal disease,” one member said. “However, this can lead to other illnesses and problems as a result of how MS can affect your life. If you become less active, you may be at risk of heart problems, or someone may fall due to mobility problems.”

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