How to ease common symptoms of multiple sclerosis

February 22, 2023 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. In MS, damage to the nerve fibers, and to the protective coating around the nerve fibers, in the central nervous system interferes with the transmission of nerve signals, which causes symptoms.

Symptoms of the disease are unpredictable, vary for each individual and can include things like: vision problems, numbness or tingling in the limbs, fatigue, bladder control problems, sexual function problems, unsteady gait, heat sensitivity, mood changes and memory loss.

Though there is no cure for MS, there are ways to help control the symptoms.

  • Fatigue. One of the most common symptoms of MS, fatigue can cause discomfort and other issues. Try saving tasks that require more of your energy for times of day when you feel most energetic. Try breaking larger tasks into smaller jobs and take short rests in between activities. Stay away from energy drinks, which often just give a sugar rush, fast food or processed foods.

  • Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet can be a common symptom of MS. If you feel your feet or fingers tingling, try running cold water over them or use something cool to help stop the tingling.

  • Mood changes. Talk to your doctor if you notice any emotional changes. Sometimes medication may be needed to help with persistent anxiety or depression. You may also want to consider talking to a therapist about your feelings.

  • Unsteady gait and muscle pain. A physical therapist can help with both muscle pain and unsteady gait. Ask your doctor whether rehabilitation therapy would be a good fit. If you are having balance issues when you walk, consider using a cane to help keep you steady.

  • Vision problems. Blurry vision, partial or complete vision loss in one eye at a time, or prolonged double vision are common problems that arise with MS. Talk to your doctor about any medications that may help with your vision problems. Limit your time reading books or in front of a computer screen to give your eyes a break.

  • Memory loss or trouble focusing. About two-thirds of people diagnosed with MS have some type of cognitive impairment that may include difficulty focusing or memory loss. Cognitive rehabilitation can help address some of those symptoms and may include strategies to deal with deficits or physical therapy (such as computerized exercises) for the brain. Also consider tools like calendars, notebooks or your smartphone to set reminders.

  • Bladder control problems. Urinary incontinence is a fairly common issue for MS patients. Start by limiting caffeine and alcohol, both of which can be bladder irritants. Try to schedule your fluid intake for times when you will be at home or near a bathroom, and avoid drinking too much fluid after dinner to reduce your bathroom trips at night.

  • Sexual problems. You may experience low libido. Talk to your doctor about this and see if there are any medications that can help. Also, talk to your partner about what’s happening so you’re both on the same page.

As with any chronic condition, it is important to talk to your doctor about changes in your health. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your family. Very often, your family will be among your biggest supporters. Keeping others informed of any changes in your condition or new symptoms will ensure you get the help you need.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we're here to help you find the right combination of conventional treatments and new, state-of-the art options to help relieve your symptoms and slow the progression of multiple sclerosis. Learn more.

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