Living with Multiple Sclerosis
One of the biggest challenges with MS is managing your day-to-day life outside of the doctor’s office. How can patients learn to help themselves to lead the most fulfilling life with the lowest disease burden?
With new ways to identify MS and evolving medications to treat it, patients now have additional methods to help manage their MS. However, MS also affects a patient’s lifestyle since troublesome symptoms during relapses (e.g., weakness, pain, fatigue) can get in the way of many daily activities.
An important element of dealing with MS is good communication with your friends, family, managers and co-workers, and making sure that they are educated about the disease and its unpredictable nature when it comes to everyday life and work.
The long-term nature of MS can cause patients to feel angry, depressed, and frustrated. Relapses can be unpredictable, and patients may not respond well to a specific treatment or treatments. While doctors have a variety of ways to help manage the symptoms of MS, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society1 has suggested several ways in which patients can improve their lives outside of the doctor’s office:
- Exercise and maintain mobility.
- Stay healthy through proper nutrition.
- Maintain emotional health.
- Strive to set goals, travel, and stay active.
- Develop a support system with family and friends.
- Stay involved in your care and communicate openly with your caregivers.
The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation has a comprehensive website for patients living with MS.2 The site is a valuable resource for patients, and addresses dozens of patient-related questions, including:
- Will I end up in a wheelchair?
- What are the most common symptoms of MS?
- What options can help me?
- Does stress affect multiple sclerosis?
- Does diet affect multiple sclerosis?
- Can I get pregnant even though I have MS?
Open communication is also very important. Keep in mind the following tips:
- Ask as many questions as you can think of.
- Bring a family or friend to doctor visits so they are informed as well.
- Review the resources your doctor gives you.
- Request follow-up to answer any questions and discuss treatment.
- Join an online support group.
- Remember, your caregivers are there because they want to help you. Work together with them!
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Living Well with MS. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS.
- Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Multiple Sclerosis FAQs. Available at: http://www.msfocus.org/multiple-sclerosis-faqs.aspx.