Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients can experience exacerbations, also known as flare-ups, and they can vary for each person. Some can be intense while others are mild. Some bring on new symptoms while others may worsen old ones. A true flare-up lasts at least 24 hours and has been 30 days from the previous attack.
These exacerbations are caused by inflammation in the central nervous system which damages the myelin causing disruption in the transmission of nerve impulses resulting in symptoms of MS. Common symptoms experienced during a flare-up may include dizziness, balance problems, numbness, pain, blurred vision, fatigue, and pins and needle sensations. MS patients can treat symptoms which can shorten flare-ups and recover faster, but how can you avoid flare-ups? WebMD offers some helpful tips on how to prevent but each person is an individual who has their own triggers to relapsing attacks.
Take Your Medicines
Ensure you take the prescription medicines given by your physician. These medicines will help prevent you from a possible relapse and from your symptoms from getting worse. If some side effects are seen due to the medicine, talk to your physician for other options.
Maintain Your Health
A bladder infection or a flu are trigger examples to a flare-up. It is important to maintain healthy habits so you can avoid these triggers. Some suggestions are to diligently wash your hands, avoid anyone who is sick, get a flu-shot, and stay hydrated while maintaining a routine to avoid bladder infections.
In general, smoking is not good for overall health and it can make MS symptoms worse. Studies have shown that by quitting smoking, you can slow the progression while also preserving cognitive functions. One study conducted by the Menzies Research Institute in Australia showed that persons who smoked the equivalent of two packs per day accumulated three times as much disability as those who smoked less than a pack per day. It is best to consult with your doctor to discuss the best options for you to quit.
For some, stress can also be a cause for a flare-up. Keep down stress levels by practicing methods such as yoga, meditation, or activities that help you feel relaxed and help you unwind.
Sleep deprivation is common in people with MS due to symptoms like muscle spasms and pain that can keep one up at night. Some medications can also disrupt the sleep patterns. Consult with your physician to help manage symptoms and discuss changes in medication to help allow for a restful night’s sleep.
These tips will hopefully help you in prevention of flare-ups. However, when they do present themselves, it is important to keep your physician updated so they can help treat for faster recovery while also reducing the inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe a steroid to tone down the inflammation, but some patients can be overly sensitive to steroids. They may have side effects like mood changes, weight gain, stomach issues and sleep deprivation. In these cases, your doctor can help with alternatives such as Achtar gel which is injected into muscles to decrease the inflammation.