Relieving Symptoms During A Flare
Other drugs are useful when a person experiences a worsening of symptoms during a flare. They will not need these drugs all the time.
These medications include corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. They can treat an acute flare-up of symptoms in certain types of MS. Examples include Solu-Medrol and Deltasone . Steroids can have adverse effects if a person uses them too often, and they are not likely to provide any long-term benefit.
Other medications and approaches can treat specific symptoms. Those symptoms include:
Behavioral changes: If a person has vision problems, a doctor may recommend they rest their eyes from time to time or limit screen time. A person with MS may need to learn to rest when fatigue sets in and to pace themselves so they can complete activities.
Problems with mobility and balance: Physical therapy and walking devices, such as a cane, may help. The drug dalfampridine may also prove useful.
Tremor: A person may use assistive devices or attach weights to their limbs to reduce shaking. Medications may also help with tremors.
Fatigue: Getting enough rest and avoiding heat can help. Physical and occupational therapy can help teach people more comfortable ways to do things. Assistive devices, such as a mobility scooter, can help conserve energy. Medication or counseling may help boost energy by improving sleep.
Bladder and bowel problems: Some medications and dietary changes can help resolve these issues.
What Is The Prognosis Of Ms
The prognosis of people with MS has increased considerably over the past 25 years. According to the National MS Society, people with MS can expect to live approximately seven years fewer than people who do not suffer from MS. However, they typically pass away from complications of their disease rather than as a direct result of their disease. For example, they may die from cardiovascular disease. It is rare that someone has MS that progresses so rapidly that it is fatal.
That being said, the progression of MS is highly variable, meaning that it affects each person differently. One person may progress much more rapidly through their disease state compared to another person.
Other factors affect life expectancy to consider. Having a family history of MS, smoking cigarettes and lacking vitamin D exposure all can make MS progress more rapidly. People who have progressive forms of MS also tend to progress more quickly than those with relapsing-remitting MS, as do African Americans with MS.
So, what has improved the life expectancy over the past 20 to 25 years? Well, there have been two large factors that contribute to the improved life expectancy: better availability of treatments and people making lifestyle changes.
There are now more disease-modifying therapies on the market, meaning that people with MS have options when it comes to their treatment. If one medication does not work, there is more than likely another one that will.
How Is Multiple Sclerosis Managed Or Treated
There is currently no cure for MS. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms, reducing relapses and slowing the diseases progression. Your comprehensive treatment plan may include:
- Disease-modifying therapies : Several medications have FDA approval for long-term MS treatment. These drugs help reduce relapses . They slow down the diseases progression. And they can prevent new lesions from forming on the brain and spinal cord.
- Relapse management medications: If you have a severe attack, your neurologist may recommend a high dose of corticosteroids. The medication can quickly reduce inflammation. They slow damage to the myelin sheath surrounding your nerve cells.
- Physical rehabilitation: Multiple sclerosis can affect your physical function. Staying physically fit and strong will help you maintain your mobility.
- Mental health counseling: Coping with a chronic condition can be emotionally challenging. And MS can sometimes affect your mood and memory. Working with a neuropsychologist or getting other emotional support is an essential part of managing the disease.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ms
MS symptoms depend on which part of the central nervous system is affected and differ for each individual. People with MS are unlikely to experience all of the symptoms but they might experience more than one.
The main symptoms of MS:
- weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
- unusual sensations
- visual problems
- balance, co-ordination and mobility problems
- muscle spasms
- fatigue and lack of energy
- bladder and bowel problems
People with MS might also experience emotional problems, anxiety and depression. Other possible symptoms include pain, hearing problems, sexual problems, memory problems, and cognitive problems . Speech and swallowing problems are also possible.
Optic Neuritis: How It Happens
Optic neuritis refers to inflammation and demyelination along the optic nerve, which transmits messages from the retina at the back of your eye to the visual cortex of the brain.
If you looked closely at the eye, you might not see anything wrong the cornea to the retina is intact and functioning as expected. But though the retina has a perfect image to show the brain, it cant inflammation and demyelination of the optic nerve interrupt it.
When inflammation subsides, symptoms often go away, and most people can see as well as they did before the flare. However, some vision changes may persist due to eroded myelin or damage along the optic nerve.
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Actions For This Page
- Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that can affect the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
- Common symptoms include fatigue, bladder and bowel problems, sexual problems, pain, cognitive and mood changes such as depression, muscular changes and visual changes.
- See your doctor for investigation and diagnosis of symptoms, since some symptoms can be caused by other illnesses.
- Whilst there is not yet a cure for MS, researchers are making promising progress and discoveries about the treatment and management of MS every day.
Find Ways To Relax And Rest
Brain fog can feel worse if youre feeling especially tired or stressed. Meditation has demonstrated significant benefit for people with MS. Resting, deep breathing, and positive affirmations may also help.
My symptoms get a lot worse when Im exhausted. I need to lie down frequently. Its the only way I know to relax at all, advised a MyMSTeam member. If you cant lie down, sit down and focus on your breath. Deep, rhythmic breathing relaxes the brain. Pace yourself, use calming self-talk . It helps.
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What Are Ms Brain Lesions
When you were told that you had multiple sclerosis , you were probably told that you had lesions on your brain. You perhaps thought, What? What the heck is a lesion?
It can be a bit confusing because there are various types of brain lesions. For example, you can have an abscess on your brain that is caused by infection, and this type of lesion is life-threatening.
An arteriovenous malformation is when the arteries and veins of the brain basically twist together the vessels are much more fragile and can leak blood into the brain. In addition, these vessels may not pump blood as efficiently, causing seizures.
Then, there are cerebrovascular infarctions strokes when clusters of cells die. Next, brain tumors, both malignant and benign, are also considered lesions. Lastly, cerebral palsy is even considered a brain lesion this type of lesion occurs in utero, does not progress over time and can affect movement as well as communication skills.
So, finding a lesion on the brain that is diagnostic for MS can be a bit confusing. Lets explain it a little bit, shall we?
What Causes Leg Spasticity
Nerve signals constantly flow from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles, whether to keep them relaxed or to contract for movement. But a lesion can cause those nerve signals to slow or misfire. What happens next depends on the muscles affected.
Extensor: The muscles that straighten your legs stiffen. When this happens, you cant bend your legs, making them difficult to move.
Flexor: When the hamstrings and hip flexors tighten, the legs bend and pull toward your chest. This can happen with a sudden jerk and either your legs get stuck in that position or spasm.
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How Does Heat Or Humidity Impact People With Multiple Sclerosis
Heat or high humidity can cause many people with MS to experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms. Doctors believe that this occurs because heat causes nerves to conduct electrical signals even less efficiently.
For reasons that are not well understood, extremely cold temperatures and changes in temperature can also cause MS symptoms, usually spasticity , to flare.
Muscle Spasms And Stiffness
Muscle spasms and stiffness can be improved with physiotherapy. Techniques such as stretching exercises can help if your movement is restricted.
If your muscle spasms are more severe, you may be prescribed a medicine that can relax your muscles. This will usually be either baclofen or gabapentin, although there are alternative medicines, such as tizanidine, diazepam, clonazepam and dantrolene.
These medicines all have side effects, such as dizziness, weakness, nausea and diarrhoea, so discuss which of these would be best for you with your specialist MS nurse or GP.
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Thinking And Memory Problems
Thinking and memory problems, also known as cognitive problems, are common in MS. Issues include memory, attention span, planning, decision making, understanding or concentration.
Problems with thinking and memory affect around half of all people with MS. Cognition is the medical term for thinking, and problems with thought and memory are known as cognitive problems. Strategies to compensate for cognitive problems and exercises to train your brain can all help.
You might experience issues with your memory, attention span, planning, decision making, understanding or concentration. Many people with MS talk about ‘brain fog’ or ‘cog-fog’ to refer to a sense that their thinking processes are sometimes not as organised or reliable as they used to be before they had MS.
Cognitive problems are often caused directly by MS although they may be the side effect of medication. Other MS symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, or depression can make your cognitive issues worse. Cognitive problems are not the same thing as dementia.
For most people their cognitive symptoms are relatively mild and can fluctuate from day to day. Initially, you may not recognise them as an aspect of your MS and put them down to other reasons such as stress, overwork, tiredness or just getting older.
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
About 10-15% of patients will have gradual worsening from the start of their MS disease. This is referred to as primary progressive MS. People with primary-progressive MS describe a gradual change in mobility often walking, over time. They often describe heaviness and stiffness in the lower limbs. People with primary-progressive MS almost never have an exacerbation . If a relapse occurs after a primary progressive course is well established, the pattern is known as Progressive-Relapsing MS.
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Complementary And Alternative Therapies
The following may help with different aspects of MS:
- heat and massage treatment for pain
- acupuncture for pain and gait
- stress management to boost mood
- exercise to maintain strength and flexibility, reduce stiffness, and boost mood
- a healthful diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fiber
- quitting or avoiding smoking
What is a healthful diet for a person with MS? Find out here.
Why Am I So Tired All The Time
Sleep disturbances, pain, and the emotional toll of managing MS all contribute to fatigue. Whats more, you may have a lower threshold for how much activity you can handle.
One possible explanation: Your brain is working a lot harder. Because of damage from MS, some neurons cant send or receive signals while others send them inefficiently. That means your healthy neurons have to work overtime to make up for those losses. In essence, they get tired.
Your metabolism may also contribute to fatigue. This chemical process provides energy to cells, and the brains of people with MS may not metabolize as efficiently.
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How Ms Affects The Brainstem
MS primarily affects the white matter of the central nervous system. White matter is located in deeper areas of the brain described as the subcortical and periventricular regions as well as in the outer portions of the spinal cord.
The white matter of the brainstem can be affected by MS demyelination. The process makes nerves slow down to the point of not functioning, producing the characteristic signs and symptoms of MS brainstem lesions.
Highly myelinated nerves are called white matter because they appear white on microscopic examination.
The Structure Of Nerves
The nervous system is comprised of two parts. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. Nerves that go to and from the rest of the body comprise the peripheral nervous system.
The nervous system contains two types of cells. They are called neurons and neuroglia. Both have a role in the formation of lesions.
A neuron is composed of three main parts: the axon, dendrites and cell body. It is believed that damaged neurons cannot regenerate. If they are damaged, the injury is permanent.
Axons are the portions of nerves that are directly damaged by lesions. The axon portion of a neuron may be microscopic or over a yard long it depends on the specific nerve. Neurons carry messages between nerves or organs.
Neuroglial cells provide nourishment and protection to neurons. These cells are sometimes referred to as glial cells. They support the neurons and indirectly aid the transmission of messages.
Specialized kinds of neuroglia protect the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. The fatty myelin sheath contains the neuroglia, which can regenerate. They may be repaired however, the tissue regeneration process may be slow, impeded by scar formation in the peripheral nervous system.
When MS occurs, the myelin sheath is weak and scarred by lesions, and its protective effects do not function adequately. Damage to neurons result and symptoms of MS appear.
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How Nerve Damage Can Impact Organs
And because the brain sends messages to the sexual organs through the spinal cord and vice versa, Dr. Scherz says damage anywhere along that path may cause sexual problems, including difficulty getting aroused, reduced sensation and trouble achieving orgasm.
Lesions in the parts of the brain responsible for coordinationoften lead to balance and coordination problems, which tend to begin in the legs and move to other parts of the body as the disease progresses. Muscle spasticity and weakness, stemming from fatigue or other symptoms, may also be to blame.
People with MS may have difficulty walking, and in advanced stages, need a cane or wheelchair or to be bedridden, Dr. Scherz says.
Speech And Swallowing Difficulties
A speech and language therapist can help you find ways to overcome problems with speech and swallowing.
For example, they can offer advice about foods that are easy to swallow and they can recommend exercises to strengthen the muscles used in speech and swallowing.
If swallowing problems become very severe, some people need to be fed using a tube, which is fitted into the stomach through the skin.
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Early Symptoms Of Multiple Sclerosis
Vague symptoms of demyelination in the brain sometimes begin long before the disorder is diagnosed. The most common early symptoms are the following:
Tingling, numbness, pain, burning, and itching in the arms, legs, trunk, or face and sometimes a reduced sense of touch
Loss of strength or dexterity in a leg or hand, which may become stiff
Problems with vision
Vision may become dim or blurred. Mainly, people lose the ability to see when looking straight ahead . Peripheral vision is less affected. People with multiples sclerosis may also have the following vision problems:
Walking and balance may be affected. Dizziness and vertigo Dizziness and Vertigo Dizziness is an inexact term people often use to describe various related sensations, including Faintness Light-headedness Dysequilibrium (feeling off balance or… read more are common, as is fatigue.
Excess heatfor example, warm weather, a hot bath or shower, or a fevermay temporarily make symptoms worse.
When the back part of the spinal cord in the neck is affected, bending the neck forward may cause an electrical shock or a tingling sensation that shoots down the back, down both legs, down one arm, or down one side of the body . Usually, the sensation lasts only a moment and disappears when the neck is straightened. Often, it is felt as long as the neck remains bent forward.
Diagnosing And Treating Mood Changes
If you, your friends, or family notices a shift in mood, talk to your doctor. Also ask them to check your mood at least once a year.
Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, or social worker. They may prescribe medication, such as antidepressants for depression or anxiety. Your health care team will follow you closely to make sure the medicine is working.
Your doctor may also recommend talk therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy. That helps you notice negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Joining a support group may also ease stress and help you feel less alone.
Setting a self-care routine can also help. When your mood dips, you can do things that help you feel nourished, like taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or having a date night.
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What Parts Of The Brain Are Affected By Ms Lesions
MS lesions can occur anywhere on the brain. However, they are most likely to occur on the optic nerve, the spinal cord and the cerebellum.
It is also important to note that symptoms are highly specific to each person although patient A and patient B may have lesions in the same areas, each may have different symptoms. Lesions are unpredictable.