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How Multiple Sclerosis Changes Over Time

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What Is a True Relapse of Multiple Sclerosis? continued...

A plaque in the brain or spinal cord changes the electrical signals that zip up and down nerves. They can get slower, distorted, or stop altogether. Those signal changes cause the symptoms of MS. One example of an MS flare is optic neuritis, inflammation of the nerve that connects the eye and the brain, which makes it harder to see.

Flares can be mild and not cause major problems, or they can severely affect your day-to-day life. They usually last from a few days to several weeks, though some can stick around for months.

Medications called corticosteroids can treat MS relapses. These drugs reduce inflammation. If you take them for a short amount of time, they can make the flare shorter and less severe.

What Is a Pseudo-Relapse in Multiple Sclerosis?

Sometimes a symptom flare has nothing to do with the course of your disease, but happens because something has aggravated your condition, like a fever, infection, or hot weather. It’s called a pseudo-relapse or a pseudoexacerbation. For example, some people’s symptoms get worse during or after times of intense stress.

What Is Remission in Multiple Sclerosis?

This break doesn’t mean that all the symptoms of MS disappear. Instead, you mostly return to the way you were before the last relapse began.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 28, 2014
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