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Call it a flare-up, an exacerbation, an attack, or a relapse. Whatever you call it, it's not something you expect. When you have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis ( MS), you can go days or years without major changes in your symptoms. Then, suddenly, things change.

You'll work closely with your doctor to feel better. You can also reset your schedule to take special care of yourself. Exercise, stretching, and relaxation can help you manage MS symptoms -- and they boost your mood, too.

Symptoms of a True Flare

Here's how to tell if you're having a relapse of MS, when the illness is active again:

  • You develop a new symptom of MS. For example, you’ve never had vision problems before, and suddenly you can’t see clearly out of your left eye.
  • A regular problem gets worse. Maybe you’ve had some numbness in your left leg before, but now you can’t feel anything below your knee.
  • Your symptoms last 24 hours or longer. A relapse means a change in your brain, called a lesion. "If a symptom lasts less than 24 hours, it’s something transient that’s not related to a new lesion," says Edward Fox, MD, director of the MS Clinic of Central Texas.
  • Symptoms level off after a while and stop getting worse.

MS flares can last days, weeks, or even as long as a year.

"Then they usually do improve, but recovery can be quite slow," says Bruce Cohen, MD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. You may recover completely, or you could have some permanent loss of function or sensation.

MS False Alarms and What Causes Them

Sometimes, you may fear you're having a relapse, but a different issue is to blame for your symptoms.  Once the trigger is gone, your symptoms should clear up, too. You can have muscle problems, numbness, or blurred vision after the following triggers:

  • Alcohol. One drink can worsen coordination for some people.
  • Cold or flu. Fever or an infection can feel like a flare-up. MS symptoms go away fairly quickly after the illness passes.
  • Heat or cold. Hot or humid weather, exercise, hot showers, and sunbathing can trigger symptoms such as blurred vision. Cold can bring on spastic muscles.
  • Poor sleep position. Morning numbness that goes away after you shake it out is not likely to be a flare-up, even if it happens every day. You just slept wrong.

Ordinary Fatigue or MS Relapse?

If you’re overworked, stressed, or not getting enough sleep, MS symptoms may trouble you more than usual. Rest and take extra time for yourself to get back on track.

If fatigue goes on even after you’ve rested -- especially if it’s extreme and keeps you from your regular activities -- check with your neurologist. Continued fatigue can be a sign of a flare-up.

dose three times a week

Dose three times a week

Use this discussion guide to talk with your doctor about how 3-times-a-week COPAXONE® 40 mg may work for you.

COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Important Safety Information about COPAXONE®

Do not take COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.

Some patients report a short-term reaction right after injecting COPAXONE®. This reaction can involve flushing (feeling of warmth and/or redness), chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. These symptoms generally appear within minutes of an injection, last about 15 minutes, and do not require specific treatment. During the postmarketing period, there have been reports of patients with similar symptoms who received emergency medical care. If symptoms become severe, call the emergency phone number in your area. Call your doctor right away if you develop hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, or severe pain at the injection site. If any of the above occurs, do not give yourself any more injections until your doctor tells you to begin again.

Chest pain may occur either as part of the immediate postinjection reaction or on its own. This pain should only last a few minutes. You may experience more than one such episode, usually beginning at least one month after starting treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience chest pain that lasts for a long time or feels very intense.

A permanent indentation under the skin (lipoatrophy or, rarely, necrosis) at the injection site may occur, due to local destruction of fat tissue. Be sure to follow proper injection technique and inform your doctor of any skin changes.

The most common side effects in studies of COPAXONE® are redness, pain, swelling, itching, or a lump at the site of injection, flushing, rash, shortness of breath, and chest pain. These are not all of the possible side effects of COPAXONE®. For a complete list, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Tell your doctor about any side effects you have while taking COPAXONE®.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

support from the start

24/7 support from the start

Receive one-on-one support and free tools when you join our Shared Solutions® program. Choose a therapy with 24/7 support you can trust.

COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Important Safety Information about COPAXONE®

Do not take COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.

Some patients report a short-term reaction right after injecting COPAXONE®. This reaction can involve flushing (feeling of warmth and/or redness), chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. These symptoms generally appear within minutes of an injection, last about 15 minutes, and do not require specific treatment. During the postmarketing period, there have been reports of patients with similar symptoms who received emergency medical care. If symptoms become severe, call the emergency phone number in your area. Call your doctor right away if you develop hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, or severe pain at the injection site. If any of the above occurs, do not give yourself any more injections until your doctor tells you to begin again.

Chest pain may occur either as part of the immediate postinjection reaction or on its own. This pain should only last a few minutes. You may experience more than one such episode, usually beginning at least one month after starting treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience chest pain that lasts for a long time or feels very intense.

A permanent indentation under the skin (lipoatrophy or, rarely, necrosis) at the injection site may occur, due to local destruction of fat tissue. Be sure to follow proper injection technique and inform your doctor of any skin changes.

The most common side effects in studies of COPAXONE® are redness, pain, swelling, itching, or a lump at the site of injection, flushing, rash, shortness of breath, and chest pain. These are not all of the possible side effects of COPAXONE®. For a complete list, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Tell your doctor about any side effects you have while taking COPAXONE®.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

lower your co pay

Your co-pay could be $0 per month*

When you switch to new 3-times-a-week COPAXONE® 40 mg, your co-pay could be lowered to $0 per month out-of-pocket.*

Injections for 3-times-a-week COPAXONE® 40 mg should be at least 48 hours apart.

* Certain limits and restrictions apply.

Terms and Conditions: COPAXONE Co-pay Solutions® is open to both new and existing patients who are residents of the US or Puerto Rico and who have commercial prescription insurance coverage for COPAXONE® 40 mg. The offer is not valid for uninsured patients or patients covered in whole or in part by Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, or any other federal or state government pharmaceutical assistance plan or program (regardless of whether a specific prescription is covered), or by private health benefit programs that reimburse for the entire cost of prescription drugs. Use of this offer must be consistent with the terms of any drug benefit provided by a health insurer, health plan, or private third-party payor. This offer is void where prohibited by law, taxed, or restricted. No additional purchase is required. This offer is valid only at participating pharmacies and may be changed or discontinued at any time without notice. This program is not health insurance.

COPAXONE is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Shared Solutions® is a registered service mark of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
COPAXONE Co-pay Solutions® is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

© 2014 Teva Neuroscience, Inc. COP-41530

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