Take an Active Role in Your Health
It’s important to avoid health problems that could complicate your MS. For instance, getting an infection can result in worsened MS symptoms.
MS is not the cause of every symptom you experience as a patient. Good primary care is essential to your overall well being. Screening tests and routine medical care should be an integral part of care.
Women should have regular Pap smears and follow guidelines for other routine screenings per their doctors’ instructions. Men over 55 should be screened for prostate cancer on a regular basis as recommended. Routine screening was previously recommended for men beginning at age 40. The American Urological Society now recommends that only men aged 55-69 receive routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood screening tests. Tests might be recommended if you have a family history of the disease.
You should have your eyes examined regularly to check for vision problems. These exams can help find glaucoma and other problems that may or may not be related to MS. All patients over 50 should be screened for colon cancer. Recent research suggests that MS patients are overall less likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to the general population. The same research also noted that some MS patients evidently neglect routine cancer screenings.
Quitting smoking is the single best step you can take to protect your health. Annual physical examinations and MS checkups will help you identify real or potential problems that should be treated. Your doctor can discuss necessary immunizations and provide you with a schedule.
You should regularly go for dental checkups to avoid dental cavities or infections. Periodontal disease is a significant and often overlooked risk factor for a number of serious health complications. Inflammation from untreated periodontitis has been linked to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
You may be asked to undergo a bone density test if you have taken corticosteroid medications for your MS. It helps evaluate the potential loss of bone mineral density that may accompany the use of corticosteroids. Corticosteroid use can lead to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by unusually brittle bones. A sedentary lifestyle is also a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Potential contributing factors to MS complications include:
- inadequate diet
- poor hydration
- sedentary lifestyle
- inadequate personal hygiene
A person with MS may be more prone to urinary tract infections if they have bladder problems. Bladder problems should be monitored regularly and treated promptly.
Emotional and Mental Health Complications
Factors around MS can cause depression, anxiety, and change of function. Altered mobility can lead to social isolation due to lack of transportation or an inadequate support system. Financial problems due to MS can also cause distress.
There are a number of resources on the web for people with MS. They are highly informative and easily accessible. The MS Coalition has a listing of member organizations. These groups assist and advocate for people who have been affected by MS. Many organizations have help lines and websites where helpful information and referrals can be provided.
The National MS Society is another excellent resource. Their website features lots of resources for MS patients and their caregivers.
It’s important to remember to communicate with those who care about you when you’re dealing with MS. You can meet the challenges of life with MS with the help of your family, friends, and doctors.