A BESTSELLING author from Bournemouth is calling for greater understanding of multiple sclerosis, ahead of this year's MS Awareness Week.

Martin Baum was diagnosed with relapsing MS aged 26 and has spoken out about how the condition ­— which affects more than 100,000 people in the UK – impacts on his daily life.

The 59-year-old, who lives with wife Lizzie, said: "MS can be painful and often exhausting, and I’ve had all sorts of symptoms. At the age of 26 I was, heartbreakingly, having to use catheters. Now it’s fatigue – I need more rest than I ever have and miss out on so much from falling asleep.

"You don’t always talk to people about it because you’re conscious of how easy it is to lose friends by dragging them into your world. Why on earth would my mates want to hear about my bowel and bladder issues? You can end up feeling very isolated."

In an MS Society poll, people with the condition reported widespread issues with misunderstanding and prejudice. Some 93 per cent of respondents felt people who do not have MS do not understand what it is, and 92 per cent wanted greater understanding of MS from the general public.

Martin added: "Having MS also means my thoughts and words are sometimes scrambled. Even with those who know me well, if I stumble ordering a round of drinks in the pub someone will pipe up: ‘Ignore him he’s drunk.’ It’s very ignorant and there’s a real job to do to educate people, even those with the best intentions.”

MS damages nerves in the body and makes it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think. It can be painful and exhausting but, because symptoms are often invisible, many without MS struggle to understand its impact.

MS Awareness Week runs from April 22 to 28. Visit mssociety.org.uk for more information about MS.