Get advice for managing Multiple Sclerosis: Watch the video.

Multiple Sclerosis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that leads to inflammation and damage to parts of your central nervous system (CNS). The CNS includes your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. In MS, your immune system attacks and destroys the coating (myelin) that covers your nerves. This may cause problems with how you feel, move, and see. The cause of MS is not known, but it may be an autoimmune disease.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to help you recover faster from a relapse. This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation and pain. Do not stop taking this medicine unless your primary healthcare provider says it is okay.

  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy prevents the immune system from attacking your body. This helps increase the time between relapses.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or neurologist as directed:

You will need to have regular visits with your primary healthcare provider or neurologist to help manage your symptoms. Ask your primary healthcare provider or neurologist if you should get regular flu and pneumonia shots. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Activity:

It is normal to feel very tired much of the time if you have MS. Your symptoms may get worse if you get too tired. Match your activity to the amount of energy you have. Pace your activities to save your energy. Break tasks down into smaller tasks. Rest or nap when you feel it is needed. It may help to go to bed early and get up late.

Bathing:

  • Take warm but not hot showers or baths. Water that is too hot may make your symptoms worse.

  • Put grab bars on the walls beside toilets and inside showers and bathtubs. These will help you get up after you use the toilet or bathe. Grab bars will also help to keep you from falling in the shower. You may want to put a shower chair inside the shower.

Bladder care:

  • Try to urinate every 3 hours during the day. Avoid drinking liquids before you go to bed. Urinate before you go to bed.

  • You may need to learn how to use a catheter if you cannot urinate on your own. A catheter is a soft rubber tube that you put into your urethra to drain urine. Ask your caregiver for more information on catheters.

Skin care:

You may have numb areas on your body. Check these areas often to be sure your skin is healthy. This will help prevent pressure sores. Keep your skin clean and dry to help prevent infections. Check your skin often if you use heat or ice so you do not damage the skin.

Rehabilitation programs for MS:

Rehabilitation programs teach you skills that are important to daily living and may improve your quality of life.

  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises so you can stay active as long as possible. These exercises help your muscles stay as flexible as possible.

    • Hydrotherapy is a gentle water exercise program. It helps strengthen muscles that are not yet damaged by MS. It is best to exercise in a cool pool. Water that is too warm may make your symptoms worse.

    • You may need to wear splints on your hands or ankles. Splints give support and keep your hands or ankles in the right position. A physical therapist will help fit you with splints if needed.

    • You may feel safer if you use a cane with 4 prongs or a walker when you walk. Remove loose carpeting from the floor to prevent falls.

    • Use chairs with side arms and hard cushions to make it easier to get up.

  • Speech therapy: This may help if you have trouble speaking or swallowing. A speech therapist has special training to help people learn safer ways to swallow. He will also help you learn which foods and liquids are safe to eat and drink.

  • Occupational therapy: This therapy may help you care for yourself as long as possible. It teaches you skills for bathing, dressing, eating, or driving. An occupational therapist may help you choose equipment to help you at home or work. The therapist may suggest ways to keep your home or work place safe.

For more information:

  • Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
    706 Haddonfield Road
    Cherry Hill , NJ 08002
    Phone: 1- 856 - 488-4500
    Phone: 1- 800 - 532-7667
    Web Address: http://www.msaa.com
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
    733 Third Avenue
    New York , NY 10017
    Phone: 1- 800 - 344-4867
    Web Address: http://www.nationalmssociety.org

Contact your primary healthcare provider or neurologist if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You are so depressed you feel you cannot cope with your illness.

  • You have new symptoms that last more than 24 hours.

  • Your MS symptoms get worse for more than 24 hours.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have trouble breathing.

  • You are so depressed you feel like hurting yourself.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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