Dec 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Living with Multiple Sclerosis



Multiple sclerosis is a neuro-degenerative disease that causes a progressive physical disability in patients.  Despite the fact that it has no cure, traditional and alternative treatments can help deal with symptoms.

MS is an inflammatory disease in which the fat around the cells of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to a process called demyelination (loss of myelin), which affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively.  As a result, the patient suffering from MS experiences a progressive physical and cognitive disability.

This might start with small symptoms such as loss of sensibility or numbness in certain areas, but could progress to

  1. muscle weakness or spasms
  2. difficulty moving, speaking and balancing
  3. problems swallowing
  4. impaired vision
  5. acute pain
  6. lack of bladder control and bowel evacuations

The last three however are only in extreme cases.

There is no known cure for MS, but there are treatments that slow down the progress of the disease and deal with the majority of symptoms and treat the pain.

Dealing with the symptoms


During the first stages of the disease, it is common to experience attacks of high intensity followed by periods of no symptoms at all, which is known as the relapsing-remitting period.

For this stage, the normal procedure is the hospitalization and the administration of intravenous corticosteroids for up to five days, until the symptoms disappear.

However, this treatment just gives a temporary relief, and a relapse is expected in about a month.

For the following stages, treatment with interferons is the most common course of action, but every doctor has their own criteria at this point.

It is also recommended that patients follow a rehabilitation process that allows them to keep their mobility for as long as possible, in order to improve their quality of life.

Living with MS and family support

To improve the quality of life while living with MS, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada also recommends to follow a healthy diet and an exercise regime indicated by a doctor.  This improves bowel activity, helps deal with fatigue and keep muscles in the best possible shape to improve mobility.

Neurologist Mary Rensel, MD, staff neurologist at the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, recommends in an interview for Everyday Health, to include anti inflammatory fruits and vegetables, such as pineapples in your daily diet.

Family and friends must insist in keeping a healthy activity regime of at least 30 minutes of exercise, twice a week.   Family and/or friend support is fundamental.  Here are some helpful tips for patients and their families/friends:

  1. Always ask your doctor if you have questions or concerns about the patient
  2. Ask or search for valid and trustworthy sources to read and inform yourself about MS
  3. Search for support groups to share experience with other persons who have relatives with MS
  4. Practice your own stress management techniques to keep a good state of mind and be able to help the patient

Alternative treatments

Several alternative options have been tried to deal with the symptoms of MS, with a variety of results that depends mostly in particular cases.   Treatments such as hyperbaric oxygenation, bee venom applied to inflamed areas, and a combination of oils and vitamin supplements (especially those with high content in vitamin D) have shown positive results in some patients.  Some of them have also used medical marijuana to deal with the episodes of extreme pain.

Dealing with stress and psychological factors

For every patient, managing stress and depression that might come with the disease is crucial.   Psychological therapy might help the patient and family deal with the changes in lifestyle that come with the physical symptoms.   Some patients also get benefits from relaxing practices that help dealing with stress, such as yoga or tai chi.

To keep depression under control, it’s important to combine all these factors:

  1. Good sleeping habits. Not enough rest may contribute to depression
  2. Exercise because it increases serotonin and also helps with self esteem
  3. Relaxation and breathing techniques help to calm and soothe
  4. Constant conversation with doctor and family to avoid any concerns
Author Bio:   Marcela De Vivo works for Northwest, a pharmaceutical company selling Canadian drugs online. In her free time she enjoys writing articles about health and dealing with disease.

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