Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Complications

Medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on November 29, 2016Written by Dale Kiefer on August 5, 2014

It’s important to avoid health problems that could complicate your MS. For instance, an infection can cause your MS symptoms to get worse.

Factors that can contribute to MS complications can include:

  • poor diet
  • poor hydration
  • obesity
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • inadequate personal hygiene

Corticosteroid-related complications

You may be asked to undergo a bone density test if you have taken corticosteroids for your MS. The test helps evaluate any loss of bone mineral density that may follow the use of corticosteroids. Corticosteroid use can lead to osteoporosis, which causes unusually brittle bones. A sedentary lifestyle is also a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Learn more: What is bone density testing? »

Bladder problems

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. For more information, read about MS and incontinence.

Mental health complications

Factors around MS can cause depression, anxiety, and change of function. For example, changes in mobility combined with lack of transportation or support can lead to social isolation. Financial problems due to MS can also cause distress.

Many resources on the web for people with MS are highly informative and accessible. The MS Coalition lists member organizations. These groups assist and advocate for people who have been affected by MS. Many organizations have helplines and websites with helpful information and referrals. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is another excellent resource. Their website features resources for MS patients and caregivers.

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.

Routine screenings

Not every symptom you experience will be the result of MS. That said, good primary care is essential to your overall well-being. Screenings and routine medical care should also be an integral part of care.

Vision exams: When you have MS, 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.

Cancer screenings: All people with MS who are older than 50 should also be screened for colon cancer. Recent research suggests that people with MS are less likely overall to be diagnosed with cancer compared to the general population. The same research also noted that some MS patients evidently neglect routine cancer screenings.

Physicals: Annual physical exams and MS checkups will help you identify real or potential problems that should be treated. Your doctor can discuss necessary immunizations and give you a schedule.

Dental checkups: You should go for dental checkups regularly to avoid cavities or infections. Periodontal disease is a significant and often overlooked risk factor for a number of serious health complications. Inflammation from untreated infections has been linked to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Women’s and men’s health screenings: Women should have regular Pap smears and follow their doctor’s guidelines for other routine screenings. Men older than 55 years should be screened for prostate cancer on a regular basis. Previously, routine screening was recommended for men beginning at age 40. However, the American Urological Society now recommends that only men aged 55–69 years receive routine prostate specific antigen blood screening tests. Testing might also be recommended if you have a family history of the disease.

CMS Id: 14939