Take Care of Your General Health When You Have MS
All of the multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment strategies in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you neglect your overall health. A word to the wise: MS can take up so much of your attention and your doctor’s that other important aspects of your health are neglected.
The tendency will be for you and others to attribute everything to your MS even though other things can happen as well. MS doesn’t provide any protection from cancer, heart disease, or stroke (which are the primary causes of death for people with and without MS).
Your best bet is to rely on your MS healthcare team for your MS care, but also to maintain an ongoing relationship with your family doctor, your ophthalmologist, and your dentist (and gynecologist if you’re a woman) for full tune-ups on a regular basis.
And remember that inactivity caused by MS fatigue and mobility problems can lead to weight gain. Those extra pounds aren’t good for anyone’s overall health, and they tend to increase the fatigue and make it even more difficult for you to get around. To avoid that vicious cycle, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about a healthy diet that’s right for you, and a physical therapist about an exercise program that meets your needs.
It’s a good idea to sort out early on who’s going to oversee your healthcare. In the good old days, the family doctor took on that role — checking you over from head to toe, making referrals to specialists when needed, and generally ensuring that the right hand knew what the left was doing. In today’s system, however, healthcare is much more specialized and fragmented. So, you need to find out who’s handling the job —your primary care doctor or your neurologist.
If you find the responsibility seems to be falling to you, the National MS Society can point you to community resources that may be able to help with the process. Contact the Society by calling (800) FIGHT-MS (800-344-4867). Whoever is taking the lead in overseeing your health, ensure that your primary care doc and your neurologist are communicating with one another.