Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Medications
The National MS Society also says that treatment with medicine may be
considered after the first attack in some people who are at a high risk for MS
(before MS is definitely diagnosed).4
Despite the recommendation, some people find it
hard to decide whether to begin disease-modifying therapy, especially when
their symptoms have been fairly mild. Some may not want to bear the risks and side effects of medicine when they are not sure they need it. Some may want to see whether their disease gets worse before they start therapy.
A small percentage of people diagnosed with MS may never have more than a few
mild episodes and may never develop any disability, but the disease is
unpredictable. For more information, see:
Multiple Sclerosis: Should I Start Taking Medicines for MS?
If you decide not to try disease-modifying therapy at
this time, work with your doctor to monitor your health through regular
checkups and periodic MRI scans to evaluate whether the disease is progressing.
If new lesions are developing or existing lesions are growing, you may want to
reconsider your decision and begin treatment.
Treating symptoms and relapses
The need and
desire for medicine vary. If your symptoms are mild, you may choose to manage
them without any medicine. If you have specific symptoms that are causing
problems, certain medicines may help you keep them under control. Or you may
want to use medicine only during a relapse.
You may also want to
- The possible side effects of using steroids
or other medicines to treat symptoms or control a relapse. Some people have
only minor side effects. But others may have side effects that concern them
more than their MS symptoms.
- The costs of treating symptoms and
controlling relapses. In some cases, using medicine to control symptoms and
relapses may reduce the need for hospital stays.
- Other personal
issues that you face at work or at home.
Also keep in mind that it can be hard to tell whether
medicine is helping. Multiple sclerosis is a disease with spontaneous
remissions, which means that your condition can improve on its own, without any
treatment. Just because your symptoms improve after treatment does not mean
that a treatment is working.