Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex and individual disease. Each person experiences it differently. When it comes to treatment, no two people have the same results. Some treatments may work well for you, but others may not. If you’re not satisfied with your current treatment, you might want to try something else.
There are many reasons to consider changing treatments. Your current medication might have side effects that bother you, or it may no longer seem to be as effective as it was. Here are some topics to discuss with your doctor if you’re considering switching to a new MS treatment.
MS can cause many symptoms that vary in frequency and severity, even when your treatment is effective in preventing progression or new lesions. This can happen because symptom management and disease management are two different things. You might not be feeling well, but that doesn’t mean your treatment is no longer working, and vice versa.
Speak to your doctor about your symptoms and how you can manage them. Research shows that managing symptoms is important for maintaining better quality of life. Your doctor can prescribe disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and other medications and therapies to help manage your symptoms.
Some common MS-related symptoms include:
- spasticity (muscle stiffness)
- bladder issues
When your symptoms are under control, you can continue with an effective disease management treatment.
When you choose an MS treatment, how it will affect your lifestyle may be a big consideration. Your doctor will understand that. It’s important to find a treatment that will keep you feeling your best while allowing you to live normally.
You need to take MS treatments on a long-term basis for them to be successful. When you start to consider your options, ask your doctor some questions about how the treatment may affect your lifestyle. These could include:
- How often will I need to take this medication?
- How easy is it to administer?
- What are the side effects I can most likely expect?
- What impact will other medications have on my lifestyle?
- Will I need any special monitoring or tests?
- What are the risks of taking other medications with this treatment?
All medications carry some sort of risk of complication. You should factor the risks into your decision. Your doctor can help you weigh these risks against the benefits. But you’ll ultimately be responsible for making the final decision about your treatment.
Your reasons for wanting to switch medications
There are reasons you’re on your current treatment. Before switching medications, your doctor will want to know why you want to make a change.
You’ll want to discuss how your current treatment is making you feel both physically and emotionally, including:
- troubling side effects
- concerns that treatment is no longer working
- concerns about the cost of treatment
- difficulties taking or injecting your medication
- issues with dosing or remembering to take your medication
Rather than switching treatments, your doctor may be able to offer other solutions to make your current treatment work for you. This could include:
- modifying your dose
- prescribing a more affordable generic version
- giving you a planned break from your treatment
Before you think about switching treatments, make sure that you’ve been taking your current medication properly. Not taking medication as prescribed is one of the most common causes of poor response to treatment.
Any new changes to your diet, or other medications you take, may also affect the way your MS treatment works. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re doing anything differently or taking new medications for other conditions.
There are many things to consider before beginning any treatment for MS. It’s also necessary to think about why switching to another MS treatment might be more beneficial.
Make your choices about treatment options easier by talking with your doctor. And make the discussion as productive as possible by asking questions. You need the answers to make an informed decision about the best treatment for you.