Ins and outs of Multiple Sclerosis - Stay Cool

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Strategies to treat symptoms

As I said earlier, multiple sclerosis is a disease that effects different sites of the body. Thus, patient may suffer from physical disability that can be really frustrating. A practical and planned approach should be taken to reduce the suffering of the patient as much as possible. Here are some options:

Physical therapy

Try some stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce stiffness of your limbs. An occupational or physical therapist can help you to do some regular exercises. There are also some devices that helps to perform daily tasks.

Other important symptoms that should be looked for in a patient with multiple sclerosis are:

Spasticity

Fatigue

Bladder and bowel dysfunctions

Pain

Depression

Sexual dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction

Symptomatic management of multiple sclerosis

In multiple sclerosis, if you are suffering from painful or uncontrollable spasticity, you can use some muscle relaxant. The most common ones are:

Baclofen

Tizanidine

Dantrolene

Gabapentin

Baclofen has the potential to increase weakness in the legs. The other side effects are:

Weight gain

Excessive sweating.

Tizanidine may cause

Drowsiness

Dry mouth

For improving walking speed you can use dalfampridine. Unfortunately, it may cause seizure.

To reduce fatigue, amantadine is the drug of choice. Other options are modafinil, selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors (SSRI) like fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram.

To reduce pain carbamazepine or tricyclic antidepressants can be used.

For bladder dysfunctions, anti-cholinergic agents, alpha antagonists or self intermittent catheterization are the options available.

Sexual dysfunction: Counseling is an important step in this aspect.

Erectile dysfunction: Phosphodiesterase inhibitors (sildenafil) can be used.

Depression can be alleviated by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram and tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline, nortriptyline etc.

Recently, stem cell transplantation is being considered as an option. In this procedure, healthy stem cells are injected into patient's body to replace diseased stem cells.

Apart from medications, there are some other important aspects that are needed to be looked for when dealing with multiple sclerosis. They are:

Adequate exercise

Walking, swimming and other physical activities may help patients to keep them calm and reduce their stress related to MS. These will improve the muscle strength, posture, balance, bladder and bowel control. Regular physical activities may also be useful to fight against depression and fatigue.

Keep yourself cool

In some cases symptoms of multiple sclerosis may worsen following increased body temperature. Sometimes, activities like hot bath or shower, sauna may flare up the symptoms of MS. This is known as Uhtoff's phenomenon. In these situations, keep your body temperature within normal range by running cool water on your body, avoiding excessive heat, swimming in cool pools and drinking cold beverages.

Eat a balanced diet

This is a general rule for every chronic disorders. Maintaining a healthy weight thanks to a healthy diet is very important to have a strong immune system. As steroid is prescribed for MS, protecting your bone is also important to keep you mobile and prevent osteoporosis.

Avoid stress

It's really difficult to manage your anger and stress in MS. But try to have a positive attitude towards your life. You are not done yet. Try to find ways to relax. Anxiety may worsen MS activity. Yoga, tai chi, deep breathing techniques or even simple music might help you to relieve stress. Try to find out your own happiness, in your own way.

About the Author

Dr Rezahaider's picture
Author: Dr Rezahaider

I am a physician by profession. I dream to work on medicine in the near future. I have completed my residency three years back. Now, I am planning to obtain MRCP. This is very hard exam and surely, I am always scared of it. I have also decided to do my specialization on cardiology. Before medical school, I never thought that our heart could be so complex! So pray for me. I usually don't have enough time to write due to my studies. But whenever I get time I love to write. I write on medical related issues. I try to make it simple for you.

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