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Multiple Sclerosis


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.


Call or have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You fall and hit your head.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your abdomen is painful and larger than usual.
  • You have a fever.
  • You feel you cannot cope with your illness.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have an open sore.
  • You have burning when you urinate.
  • You do not have a bowel movement for 3 days or more.
  • You choke or cough during eating or drinking.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Disease modifying medicine helps prevent MS from getting worse. This medicine may also help prevent attacks or relapses.
  • Other medicines may be used to control and decrease MS symptoms. Medicines can be used to treat symptoms such as muscle spasms, depression, or pain. There are also medicines to help treat sexual dysfunction, fatigue, and bladder or bowel problems.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.


  • Manage your stress to decrease relapses. Do activities that help you relax. Ask your healthcare provider about counseling or therapies to help you manage stress.
  • Exercise may help decrease fatigue and depression. It may also improve bowel or bladder function, mobility, and stiffness. Ask your healthcare provider about an exercise program that is right for you.
  • Get vaccinated to prevent illnesses that worsen MS symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about what vaccines you need.
  • Take your medicines as directed. This will help prevent complications of MS and may reduce your number of relapses. Know the side effects of your medicines and when to report them to your healthcare provider.


  • 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 healthcare provider 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:

  • Physical therapy helps you manage MS symptoms. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
  • Speech therapy helps improve speech and swallowing. A speech therapist has special training to help people learn safer ways to swallow. He or she will also help you learn which foods and liquids are safe to eat and drink.
  • Occupational therapy may help you with self-care activities. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities. These skills may include bathing, dressing, feeding, grooming, or using the bathroom. An occupational therapist may also help you find equipment for your home or work. This equipment may make activities safer or easier for you to complete.

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:
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
    733 Third Avenue
    New York , NY 10017
    Phone: 1- 800 - 344-4867
    Web Address:

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

You will need to have regular visits to help manage your symptoms. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Multiple Sclerosis (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference