Multiple Sclerosis - How to Improve Your Quality of Life

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects millions of people around the globe. MS is believed to be an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the myelin lining of the nerves. This damage interrupts signals between the brain, spinal cord, and the body’s muscles. This may result in damage to the nerves themselves and is not reversible. Symptoms of MS can vary and often disappear for months at a time. Although there is no cure, some treatments can help with MS attacks and symptoms.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

According to www.MayoClinic.org, symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis include:

  • numbness/weakness in one or more limbs
  • partial or complete loss of central vision, usually in one eye & painful eye movement
  • double vision or blurring of vision
  • tingling or pain in parts of your body
  • electric shock sensations that occur with head movements
  • tremors or lack of stability
  • slurred speech, dizziness, and fatigue

Heat sensitivity of common in patients with MS and small changes in temperature can trigger or worsen symptoms. Many patients often experience relapses of symptoms, especially in the early onset of the disease. These symptoms can lead to spasms and rigidity in muscles, paralysis, bladder/bowel problems, changes in cognitive function (memory), and even epilepsy. Tests such as blood tests, MRIs, spinal taps, and an evoked potential test can be used to diagnose MS or rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms.

Treatments

Since there is no cure for MS, treatments are tailored to manage the symptoms and treat attacks of the disease. During a recurrence of symptoms, corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation or a plasma exchange may be utilized for patients not responding to intravenous steroids. Treatments to slow the progress of the disease include prescription medications and other anti-immune drugs. You should consult your physician to determine the right medication for your illness. To combat muscle stiffness and spasms, a doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants. Symptoms of MS can be treated with physical therapy, such as stretching and strengthening muscles. Exercise has shown to be important when combating MS. Walking, swimming, weight training all have benefits for strengthening and muscle tone. This can improve balance and control, not to mention bladder and bowel control. Physical exercise can also help with fatigue and depression. Working out with elastic bands creates mild resistance easily. The “no pain, no gain” mantra is actually counterproductive for those suffering with MS, so exercise should be mild to moderate. Always consult your doctor or a physical therapist before beginning any exercise regimen. Water aerobics and swimming, not to mention low impact activities such as yoga and tai chi, are good activities for those suffering from MS. Also, people suffering from multiple sclerosis are sensitive to heat, so make sure there is a water bottle with cool liquid nearby. Lightweight dumbbells can help with muscle training and yoga mats offer a nonslip surface for yoga. Since fatigue is a big part of MS, rest is important as is a healthy diet and the reduction of stress. Have fun, but be aware of your body and stop if you feel sick or pain.

Assistive Technologies

Depending upon your limitations due to MS, there are many adaptive technologies to help you live a vibrant life. Canes and walkers can help with stability and wheelchairs can help with mobility. Voice activated remote controls can help with television watching and software that requires only your voice to operate your computer.

 

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