Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

With multiple sclerosis (MS), you'll have good days and bad days. You might feel fine for weeks or months, and then your symptoms suddenly get worse.

Days when your old symptoms pop up again or new symptoms start are called relapses, attacks, or flare-ups. Everyone's flare-ups are different. Some are mild. Others are severe.

The goal is to prevent relapses. When your symptoms do get worse, know how to treat them so you can feel better faster.

What Causes Flare-Ups?

Flare-ups happen when inflammation in your nervous system damages the layer that covers and protects nerve cells. This damage slows or stops nerve cell signals from getting to the parts of your body where they need to go.

People with relapsing-remitting MS have flare-ups followed by symptom-free periods called remissions. To be a true relapse, the symptom must start at least 30 days after your last flare-up. And the symptom should stick around for at least 24 hours.

What Happens During a Flare-Up?

During a flare-up you'll get new symptoms. Or symptoms you already have will get worse.

You might have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Balance problems
  • Blurred vision or blindness in one eye
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness

How to Prevent Flare-Ups

Certain things can start a relapse. Everyone's triggers are different. Learn what brings on your symptoms so you can avoid them.

To prevent flare-ups:

Take your medicines. The drugs your doctor prescribed slow your MS from getting worse and help prevent relapses. If you have side effects from your medicine, don't just stop taking them. Ask your doctor about other options.

Keep up your health. A bout of cold or flu can set off your MS symptoms. A bladder infection can trigger a flare-up, too. Wash your hands with warm water and soap during the day, get your yearly flu shot, and avoid people who look sick. Drink lots of water to keep your bladder healthy. Ask your doctor for other ways to avoid bladder infections.

Don't smoke. It's bad for you in so many ways, and it can make your MS symptoms worse.