There are four main types of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that differ by their relapse and remission characteristics. These types are known as relapsing-remitting, primary-progressive, secondary progressive, and progressive-relapsing. A relapse occurs when new symptoms appear or old symptoms return for a period of at least 24 hours. A remission is a decrease or disappearance of symptoms for an extensive period of time. Another term used to describe a remission is “remitting.”
The most common type of MS is relapsing-remitting, which is characterized by a relapse that lasts for a period of days or weeks, followed by a partial or total remission. The relapses and remissions with this type of MS are unpredictable, and it can sometimes turn into another type of MS, known as secondary-progressive. Secondary-progressive MS requires an initial phase of relapse-remitting MS that is followed by a progressive worsening of symptoms. However, relapses or minor remissions can still happen with the secondary-progressive form of MS. It is estimated that approximately 85% of people with MS have either relapsing-remitting or secondary-progressive MS.
In Primary-progressive MS, the disease slowly gets worse over time, with no relapses or remissions. About 10% of MS sufferers have this type of the disease. The rarest type of MS, progressive-relapsing, is characterized by a steady, consistent increase in the severity of symptoms over time.
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