The best way to manage relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is with a disease-modifying agent.
Newer medications are effective at decreasing rates of new lesions, reducing relapses, and slowing disability progression. Coupled with a healthy lifestyle, MS is more manageable than ever before.
If you experience brand-new symptoms that last for 24 hours or longer, contact your neurologist, or head to the emergency room. Early treatment with steroids may shorten symptom duration.
Going on an effective disease-modifying therapy (DMT) helps decrease the rate of MS attacks and slow disease progression. The number of DMTs on the market have increased rapidly in recent years.
Each DMT has a different effect on relapse reduction. Some DMTs are more effective than others. Talk to your doctor about the risks of your medication and its effectiveness at stopping new lesions and relapses.
No one diet has been proven to cure or treat MS. But how you eat can affect your energy levels and overall health.
Your best bet is to eat a diet that’s high in fiber and low in sodium, sugar, and processed foods. The Mediterranean or DASH diets are good examples of this kind of healthy eating pattern.
I recommend a diet that’s rich in natural foods. Include plenty of green leafy vegetables and lean protein. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may benefit some people with MS.
Eat red meat sparingly. Avoid fast foods, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried foods.
Many doctors recommend taking a vitamin D-3 supplement. Talk to your neurologist about how much vitamin D-3 you should take. The amount usually depends on your current blood D-3 level.
Yes, but it’s always important to drink responsibly. Some people may experience a flare-up (or worsening of their underlying MS symptoms) after a few drinks.
Exercise helps maintain a healthy body and mind. Both are important in fighting MS.
A variety of exercises are helpful for people with MS. I especially recommend aerobic exercise, stretching, and balance training, including yoga and Pilates.
We all struggle with motivation. I find sticking to a set schedule and setting concrete goals helps develop an attainable routine.
I encourage my patients to stay cognitively and mentally active by challenging themselves with engaging games, such as sudoku, Luminosity, and crossword puzzles.
Social interaction is also very helpful for cognitive function. The key is to choose an activity that’s both fun and stimulating.
Always discuss any side effects of your medication with your neurologist. Many side effects are temporary and can be reduced by taking your medication with food.
Over-the-counter medications, such as Benadryl, aspirin, or other NSAIDs, may help.
Be honest with your neurologist if side effects don’t improve. The medication might not be right for you. There are plenty of different therapies your doctor may recommend trying.
A host of resources are available for people with MS these days. One of the most helpful is your local chapter of the National MS Society.
They offer services and support, such as groups, discussions, lectures, self-help collaborations, community partner programs, and much more.
We now have many effective and safe therapies to treat people on the MS spectrum. It’s essential to work with an MS expert to help navigate your care and management.
Our understanding of MS has advanced tremendously over the last 2 decades. We hope to continue to progress the field with the goal of ultimately finding a cure.
Dr. Sharon Stoll is a board certified neurologist at Yale Medicine. She’s an MS specialist and assistant professor in the department of neurology at Yale School of Medicine. She completed her neurology residency training at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, and her neuroimmunology fellowship at Yale New Haven Hospital. Dr. Stoll continues to play an active role in academic development and continuing medical education, and serves as the course director for Yale’s annual MS CME program. She’s an investigator on several international multicenter clinical trials, and currently serves on several advisory boards, including BeCare MS Link, Forepont Capital Partners, One Touch Telehealth, and JOWMA. Dr. Stoll has received numerous awards, including the Rodney Bell teaching award, and she’s a National MS Society clinical fellowship grant recipient. She’s most recently served on an academic podium for Nancy Davis’ foundation, Race to Erase MS, and is an internationally renowned speaker.