Taking Care of Yourself During an MS Relapse

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Robert K. Shin, MD
An MS relapse is something we're trying to prevent with MS therapy, but I think we all have to recognize that it could occur.

Sometimes, MS patients are curious about how do they know for sure if they're having a relapse.

I usually focus on two things.

First of all, is it a new neurological symptom?

It could be almost anything. It could be vision problems, speech problems, weakness, numbness, imbalance.

And is it lasting for at least 24 hours to 48 hours?

If a patient thinks they might be having an MS attack, I really encourage them to reach out to their health care provider right away, physician or nurse, to try to run the situation by them to see if this is going to require treatment.

And in terms of treating MS relapses for speeding up recovery, we often use steroids or anti-inflammatory-type medications.

Taking care of yourself is extremely important in treating MS relapses. So lack of sleep, not eating properly make MS symptoms worse.

I do encourage my patients to have a healthy, balanced diet, to try to get exercise, whatever they like doing. Anything we can do to reduce stress or focus on stress management is helpful for patients who have MS.

Another factor that's very important is not smoking. Evidence shows that patients with MS who smoke definitely have more symptoms and worse outcomes.

The better we do with these things, really the better MS patients do on the whole.

We have many excellent ways to treat MS, and our goal is really to keep people completely healthy, attack-free, and disability-free.