Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. It disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. It can affect the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI), there are about 2.6 million MS patients worldwide, of which 2 lakhs are from India. This disease is generally found in people aged between 20 to 50 years.
In the section below, we shall focus on Multiple Sclerosis - its causes, treatment and so on. But, before that, let us understand the importance of health insurance plans for the efficient treatment of major health conditions.
Recently, there has been a high unpredictability concerning one's health. Also, medical expenses can jeopardise your financial stability if you or your loved one encounters a health issue. Opting for the right medical insurance offers several benefits, including health insurance tax benefits.
A health insurance plan from Tata AIG can safeguard you from the financial implications of various health-related expenses, including diagnosis and treatment costs. Now, be it purchasing medical insurance or raising a claim, all the procedures have become very convenient due to digitalisation and quick online processes.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease wherein the body's immune system damages the protective layer of nerves called "Myelin". It occurs when the body's immune system attacks nerve fibres and myelin sheathing (a fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibres) in the brain and spinal cord. This attack causes inflammation which thus destroys the nerve cell processes. This disrupts the flow of information from the brain to the rest of the body, causing coordination issues in the neural networks of the body.
Multiple Sclerosis means "scar tissue in multiple areas." When the myelin sheath disappears or sustains damage in multiple areas, it leaves a scar or Sclerosis. The main cause of MS is still unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder.
MS is a progressive disease, i.e., it worsens with time. Also, the severity can escalate rapidly without proper multiple sclerosis treatment. The impact or the effects of MS differs from patient to patient, making it very unpredictable. Some individuals may be affected to a mild extent, while others may be hit harder as they lose their ability to walk, speak or write.
Stages or Types of MS
Four courses have been identified in Multiple Sclerosis – clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and secondary progressive MS (SPMS).
Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS): This is the first stage wherein inflammation and damage to the myelin appear in the brain or spinal cord. It doesn't meet the criteria for diagnosing MS, as only one area of damage to the myelin sheath is responsible for symptoms.
Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS): In this stage, the disease generally follows a predictable pattern during which the symptoms worsen and then improve. Individuals suffering from RRMS have relapses of MS. This stage eventually progresses into secondary progressive MS.
Secondary progressive MS (SPMS): Some individuals with the RRMS form of the condition tend to develop SPMS. This development generally happens within 10 to 25 years of the first diagnosis of the disease. Between the relapses during SPMS, the condition usually worsens.
Primary progressive MS (PPMS): Around 10%-15% of people suffer from PPMS. The disease in this stage progresses slowly and steadily but without any remission period. However, different individuals have differences in the progression rate over time.
Common Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
The main causes of MS are still not clear. However, genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a major role in who gets this disease. Some of the common early symptoms of MS include.
Numbness and tingling
Difficulty in walking
These are, however, no classic symptoms confirming MS. Since many of the symptoms also occur with other conditions, diagnosing MS merely on symptoms can be difficult.
Factors that may lead to Multiple Sclerosis
As mentioned earlier, the prime cause of MS is still unknown, anyone is susceptible to developing MS, but there are some common patterns. Let's list a few.
Gender: Studies reveal women more commonly develop MS, which is more than two to three times as many women. Additionally, this gender difference is continuously increasing over the past few years. Genetic: Genetic factors are known to be one of the reasons anyone develops MS. Still, there is no concrete evidence that MS is directly inherited.
Environment and Lifestyle: The risk of developing MS is shown to have increased due to environmental factors like low Vitamin D exposure and lifestyle habits like smoking cigarettes.
Ethnic groups: Caucasians of Northern European ancestry are known to have the highest number of MS cases. However, MS occurs in almost all ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics/Latinos.
Complications of Multiple Sclerosis
Some of the complications of multiple sclerosis include:
Permanent loss of vision
Muscle spasms or stiffness
Paralysis (mostly of the arms and the legs)
Bowel, bladder or sexual dysfunction
Mental issues like amnesia, depression, mood swings, etc.
Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Neurological diseases or conditions are difficult to diagnose because many symptoms may overlap each other. It often takes time to diagnose MS because other conditions related to the central nervous system (CNS), including CNS infections, inflammatory disorders, and genetic disorders, must first be ruled out.
You will need to undergo several physical and neurological examinations, and the doctor will thoroughly study symptoms and medical history.
Some of these examinations include:
A blood test is to diagnose this disease.
MRI scans find brain and spinal cord lesions, proving multiple sclerosis development.
Spinal fluid analysis to identify antibodies that suggest any previous infection.
Evoked potential test or nerve function test by measuring electrical activity on stimulants.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
The complete cure for MS has yet to be found. However, there are now FDA-approved medications that help reduce the number of relapses of MS and are successful in delaying the progression of disability to some extent. In addition to this, there are multiple therapeutic, complementary and alternative therapies and technological advances that help people manage symptoms. Every year, there are advancements in multiple sclerosis treatment to manage symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life. Multiple Sclerosis treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Medications to slow the progression of MS can include a combination of injectable, oral and infused medications.
Practices like regular exercise, yoga, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, and physical therapy play an important role in relieving the patient.
One can also make some minor lifestyle changes that may have a major impact on relief patterns. These changes include eating a nutritious diet, lowering stress levels, and being sufficiently mobile, including stretching.
Some over-the-counter medicines are also included as part of the treatment. These may include pain relievers and stool softeners.
People who have developed MS are increasingly inclined towards complementary therapies like psychiatric counselling, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
For severe MS attacks, plasma exchange treatment may also be implemented, wherein blood is removed from one person, and plasma is replaced and infused back into the person. However, this treatment has produced mixed results.
Various research and advancement in stem cell therapy may help MS patients reverse the damage done and restore their functionality.
Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy, Progression and Prognosis
Typically, MS becomes severe over a period of time. But the severity and the timeline differ for each person suffering from it. For some people, there won't be much progression of the symptoms, but for some, the symptoms may become severe within a smaller period.
Living with MS is challenging, but it is rarely fatal. However, there may be complications from MS, like a chest infection, bladder infection etc., which may lead to death. Not all with MS face severe paralysis. Some reports show that around two-thirds of people who develop MS can walk. However, most would require assistance like crutches, a cane, a wheelchair etc.
As per studies, the average life expectancy for a person with MS is around 5 to 10 years lower than than any average person.
How Can a Health Insurance Policy Help?
MS is a challenging disease to deal with. The condition is chronic, unpredictable, and progressive and requires a lot of effort, medications, and patience to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle. The costs related to diagnosis, treatment, and the expenses incurred to maintain a certain lifestyle are high. Moreover, the relapses can be sooner and quicker for many, which poses an additional financial threat to the family members and caretakers. Thus, a health insurance plan can act as a saviour.
In most cases, during the relapses, the person requires additional care and hospitalisation is a must. However, we can easily assume the elevated hospitalisation costs due to the current medical condition. Therefore, to safeguard your financial condition and protect your savings, it is essential to have a robust medical insurance plan in place.
You can conveniently compare, purchase, and renew your health insurance plans on Tata AIG in just a few simple steps. You can simply go through various offerings, input a few details, check the premium amount, and then choose the plan you think is the most appropriate for you.
Our network hospitals have a widespread reach. With over 7,200 network hospitals across the country, it enables you to enjoy cashless claims wherein you may not require to spend money from your pocket.
How to Buy Tata AIG's Health Insurance Policy?
The first **Step before you purchase a health insurance plan is to assess your and your family's healthcare needs. Consider if you have an existing or employee-funded health insurance plan. Based on your analysis and financial budget, you can opt for an adequate sum insured plan that fits your needs at the best possible premium costs. It is important to balance your medical insurance coverage and premium. The best way to do this is to use a health insurance premium calculator.
At Tata AIG, you can buy your preferred health insurance plan in two ways – offline and online.
Follow these Steps to purchase a health insurance plan online-
Step 1: Go to the Health Insurance page on our official website
Step 2: Select the people you wish to insure, for example, you, your spouse, children, parents etc., and click on 'Get Plan'.
Step 3: Fill in your details, including your contact number, email address and address.
Step 4: You will get recommendations for different plans.
Step 5: Select an appropriate sum assured.
Step 6: You can check instant premium quotes and compare plans to see which is best for you.
Step 7: Click on 'Buy Now' to purchase your plan online.
Once the application is processed, you will receive your policy documents and the quote on your registered WhatsApp number.
To purchase health insurance offline, follow the below **Steps.
Step 1: Find the nearest Tata AIG branch. To locate our nearest branch, click here.
Step 2: Once you visit our branch, our official will approach you to discuss your requirements and the offered plans.
Step 3: Choose the plan you think is best for you.
Step 4: Fill in the application form and attach the necessary documents.
Step 5: Submit and make the payment.
You will receive your policy in the mail post verifications in a few days.
Why Buy Health Insurance from Tata AIG?
Health insurance has become a necessity. Choosing the best for you can be tricky, with insurers offering numerous health insurance plans. Look at a few reasons why Tata AIG's health insurance policy is the right choice for you.
A Tata promise: Tata has become synonymous with trust, quality, and exceptional customer service. We ensure the delivery of prompt and high-quality services to you 24X7.
High Claim Settlement Ratio: We at Tata AIG take pride in sharing that our health insurance Claim Settlement Ratio during the financial year 2020-21 was 94.21%.
Considerable Cumulative Bonus: If, during a policy year, you do not file for any health insurance claim, you are eligible to receive a cumulative bonus between 10% to 100% of the sum insured based on the type of plan selected.
24/7 assistance: We are available to assist you 24x7 through various channels like phone calls, WhatsApp and email support. To contact us, click here.
Cashless hospitalisation: With a strong network of over 7200 hospitals across the country, you can take advantage of our cashless hospitalisation feature. With this feature, we settle the medical expenses and bills directly with the network hospitals without you getting involved.
Online procedures: You can select, compare, buy or renew your health insurance policy by paying the premiums online - anytime, anywhere.
Discounts: Not just comprehensive health insurance coverage, but we offer unbelievable discounts. For instance, a three-year Tata AIG MediCare or MediCare Protect plan can get you a 10% discount on your premium.
When you know the typical course Multiple Sclerosis would take and things that you can work on, you can get appropriate treatments and better control of your life. Working closely with your doctor and following the guidelines to the T can help you manage this disease better. An adequate health insurance plan can also act as financial support or security during testing times.
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Disclaimer / TnC
Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.
Which doctor specialises in multiple sclerosis treatment?
Which doctor specialises in multiple sclerosis treatment?
Since MS is a neurological condition, multiple sclerosis diagnosis and treatment are made by a neurologist. Other professionals specialising in neurology, like neuroradiologists, neuro-ophthalmologists or neuropsychologists, may also assist in diagnosis and treatment.
Why is early treatment of MS important?
Early damage in the central nervous system due to MS may occur before you experience any symptoms. Research and studies have proved that to reduce long-term disability, the early relapsing stage must be controlled. Early treatment can help minimise the inflammation caused due to damage and also reduces damage to nerve fibres.
Can MS be cured?
Not yet. However, there are FDA-approved medications that help slow down or modify the course of MS. These medications can limit new areas of damage, reduce the number of relapses and delay the progression of disability, but they still cannot cure the disease.
Does MS always cause paralysis?
No. Many people suffering from MS can walk and stay mobile. They might, however, need additional support in the form of a cane, crutches, wheelchair etc.
How can I maintain a healthy lifestyle for MS?
Only medication isn't important; you should take care to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle to fight MS. Ensuring you maintain low-stress levels, indulge in physical activity or exercise, and incorporate healthy diets can play a significant role in the management of MS.
Is Multiple Sclerosis covered under health insurance?
A regular health insurance plan may only sometimes cover MS. It is typically categorised under critical illness. Thus, it would be best to consider buying critical illness cover over and above your medical insurance to cover yourself adequately.
Why should I buy critical illness cover for Multiple Sclerosis?
As mentioned above, MS may not be covered under a regular health insurance plan as it falls under critical illness. However, some health insurance plans cover critical illnesses, but only to the extent of hospitalisation expenses. On the other hand, if you opt for a critical illness plan, you receive a lump sum if diagnosed with a critical illness like Multiple Sclerosis, which is included under the plan. This lumpsum amount can be used for medical treatments, loss income recovery, or other expenses.