Take an Active Role in Your Health
People affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) should pay careful attention to problems that could cause complications of their disease. It is important to remember that when someone with MS has an infection, MS symptoms tend to worsen until the infection is being treated and under control.
In addition, there are certain health-related activities that one should be aware of in terms of prevention and/or identification of other problems. Above all, it is important to remember that not all symptoms are caused by MS and good primary care is essential to the overall well being of a patient with MS. Screening tests and routine care should be an integral part of care received by a person with MS.
For example, women should have regular Pap smears as well as follow the guidelines for mammograms as per their physician’s instructions. Men, as they age, should be screened for prostate cancer on a regular basis. All people should have their eyes examined regularly to check for vision problems, glaucoma, and other problems that may or may not be related to MS. All patients over 50 should have a colonoscopy.
If you smoke, please try to quit. It is the single best step you can take today to protect your health. Annual physical examinations along with your MS check-ups will help you identify real or potential problems that should be treated. Your healthcare provider will discuss the need for immunizations and will provide you with a schedule.
You should regularly go for dental checkups to avoid caries or infections.
If you have taken a great deal of corticosteroids for your MS, you may be asked to have a bone density study to evaluate for bone loss that can occur with this medication or with a more sedentary lifestyle. Inadequate diet, poor hydration, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and inadequate personal hygiene all are contributing factors to potential complications of MS.
If a person with MS has bladder problems s/he could be prone to urinary tract infections. This should be monitored on a regular basis to avoid worsening or your symptoms and should be treated promptly.
Emotional & Mental Health Complications
There are a number of social and environmental factors that result from MS that 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 for a person with multiple sclerosis that are web based and easily accessible. The Multiple Sclerosis Coalition has a listing of member organizations that advocate and assist all those affected by MS. Many organizations have help lines and web sites where information and referral can be provided.
The most important thing to remember with MS is to communicate with those who care about you: your family, your friends, your healthcare team, and those service providers who dedicate their professional activities to help you overcome the challenges of MS.