Multiple Sclerosis For Dummies
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Because multiple sclerosis (MS) is so complex, treatment involves several different strategies. Here are snapshots of several steps you can take to feel and function up to snuff:

  • Use disease-modifying therapy. Your doctor will discuss with you whether you’re a candidate for treatment with one of the disease-modifying therapies. For example, if you have relapsing-remitting MS or secondary-progressive MS and are having intermittent relapses, you’re probably a candidate. These medications don’t cure MS, but they do reduce the frequency and severity of relapses. And, they probably slow the progression of the disease to some degree.

  • Manage your relapses. Relapses (also called attacks or exacerbations) can be treated with corticosteroids if necessary. Even though the corticosteroids don’t have any long-term impact on the disease, they’re often effective in reducing the inflammation and bringing the relapse to an end more quickly.

    When you have a relapse, you and your doctor will decide whether the symptoms are interfering enough with your everyday activities to warrant treatment. And the rehab team can help you with exercise tips and other management strategies so you can get back in the swing of things as quickly as possible.

  • Manage your symptoms. You and your healthcare team will work together to manage your symptoms effectively. Successful symptom management relies on effective teamwork — with you being a key player on your team. Your job is to report symptoms promptly, follow through with the treatment plan that the team develops for you, and provide feedback on what treatments do and don’t work for you.

Remember, as your symptoms change, so will the strategies you use to manage them.

  • Work with the rehabilitation team. Like the mechanics that keep your car finely tuned and road-ready, the rehab team helps you get in gear.

    • Physical and occupational therapists can help you do what you want to do, comfortably and safely, and prevent yucky complications. They’re the experts when it comes to finding the right tools to help you do what you want to do.

    • Speech/language pathologists deal with problems related to communication, swallowing, and cognitive functions like thinking, remembering, and processing information.

  • Promote your overall health and wellness. Feeling your best involves more than just managing your MS. So, it’s important that you not focus on your MS to the exclusion of your general health.

    Unfortunately, being diagnosed with MS doesn’t protect you from the health problems that plague all mortals. This means that you have to get the proper nutrition, exercise, and preventive healthcare and you have to manage the stresses of your everyday life. Taking these important steps can help you feel healthy and well in spite of a chronic illness.

  • Seek out emotional support. Living with MS isn’t a piece of cake. Even for those whose symptoms remain mild and manageable, the unpredictability alone is enough to stress people out. The fact is that adjusting to this intrusion in your life — and your family’s life — is an ongoing process that begins with your first symptoms and continues through all the changes that MS can bring.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Rosalind Kalb, Ph.D., Barbara Giesser, MD, and Kathleen Costello, ANP-BC, have over 80 years' combined professional experience in working with people living with multiple sclerosis. For each of them, MS was, is, and will be their chosen career.

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