When you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, all sorts of questions and concerns start racing through your mind:
“Am I going to be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life?”
“Will I no longer be able to do the activities I love?”
These are very legitimate concerns and you may even feel as if you’re losing control over your life, which is understandable, but one of the best ways to regain control is by gathering your thoughts so that you can ask your doctor all the right questions.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease to the damage of the covers of nerve cells which disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems. It is the sisease that forced comedy legend, Richard Pryor, into a wheelchair in the last days of his life
With the help of Dr. Bola Oyeyipo, a family physician in San Antonio, Texas, we’re answering some of your most common questions regarding MS so that you can live your best life.
1. “What kind of MS do I have?” There are four types of MS: Relapsing-remitting MS, Primary-progressive MS, Secondary-progressive MS, and Progressive-relapsing MS. Knowing which form you have is essential in fighting the disease because you will know what to expect in terms of how it effects your body.
“The conventional treatment for MS is often not pleasant – injections of immune-suppressing agents so it’s important to know the type of MS you have so your treatment can be tailored accordingly,” Dr. Oyeyipo says.
2. “How far along is my MS?” MS can be difficult to diagnose due to the fact that it cannot be detected by one single test and the symptoms tend to vary from person to person. As a result, many individuals have MS for quite some time before being diagnosed. By then, the disease will have progressed.
“The current way of diagnosing MS is finding evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “This usually start months to years before the physical symptoms show up.”
She adds, “Knowing the extent of demyelination of the brain and spinal cord helps to guide what treatment options to take. The more extensive the disease is, [the patient will require] a more aggressive approach, [such as treatment] with immunoglobulins and steroids to preserve physical function and to achieve remission.”
3. “What drugs and treatments should I take?” When you’ve been diagnosed with MS or any disease for that matter, it’s important to know all your options first.
“There is not a one-size-fits-all treatment for MS,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “The choice of treatment would depend on your tolerance of the medication, the severity of your MS, your physician’s preference, and what is covered by your health insurance company.”
“Acute relapses might need intravenous steroids or immunoglobulin infusion to bring on a remission and preserve functional status,” she adds.
4. “How can I manage my symptoms at home?” In addition to medication and physical therapy, there are many things you can do at home to help manage your symptoms. For example, many MS patients have issues with overheating. To stay cool, you can drink cold beverages, go swimming, avoid taking hot showers, and dress in light-weight clothing, just to name a few.
“Doing things that would improve or maintain your immune system will help delay or prevent relapses,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “[To boost your immune system], eat a diet rich in antioxidants – fresh fruits and vegetables, get regular exercise – don’t overdo this, and maintain healthy relationships.”
5. “Will I still be able to exercise and get around?” Many MS patients are able to lead very normal, active lives. In fact, exercise has been proven to reduce some of the symptoms associated with MS, but you will have to take a few things into consideration beforehand.
“For muscles, if you don’t use them, you lose them. MS could cause a spastic deformity of the muscles,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “Exercise helps to preserve the physical function, maintains good blood flow, and promotes a sense of wellbeing and vitality. Exercise also helps to wade off depression, which is particularly common in chronic diseases like MS.”
6. “Can I become pregnant?” This has got to be one of the most common myths surrounding MS. And while there are certain risks and complications that come along with pregnancy and MS, a safe and healthy delivery is still possible.
“You can become pregnant as an MS patient, but be aware that the changes in your hormonal and immunologic status brought [on] by pregnancy could flare up your MS or keep you in remission,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “Overall, pregnancy does not affect MS in the long term.”
article via blackdoctor.com