Ask This When Talking to Your Doctor About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the protective sheath around the nerves, affecting the brain and the spinal cord causing the sufferer to loose control over movements and causing progressive weakness in the limbs. Without this protective layer, the nerves themselves will eventually deteriorate. The symptoms of MS include weakness or numbness in the limbs, partial or complete loss of vision or double vision, slurred speech, tremors and tingling in the limbs, fatigue, dizziness and bowel and bladder problems. There is no cure for this disease, but there are ways to manage or stop ms flare-ups. The top three treatments for MS are corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, muscle relaxants to ease muscle rigidity and various medications designed to reduce the frequency of flare-ups and slow the disease's progression. Ask your doctor the following questions to learn more about MS symptoms and treatments.

How do multiple sclerosis symptoms change over time?
Talk to your doctor about whether you should expect to experience new symptoms as the disease progresses, or whether your symptoms may worsen over time. With proper treatment, most multiple sclerosis symptoms are manageable, but if you experience new or worsening symptoms, adjustments may need to be made to your medication or treatment plan. 
Are there other conditions that could be causing my MS symptoms?
There are many other conditions that may cause MS symptoms, including Lyme disease, infections, lack of B12 in your system or genetic disorders. Ask your doctor whether other conditions may be the cause of your symptoms, and which conditions have already been ruled out. 
Is there anything I can do at home to manage my symptoms?
There may be things you can do at home to help manage or alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Talk to your doctor about things you can do at home, including yoga, keeping your home cool, practicing relaxation exercises and staying hydrated. 
Are there any treatments for MS besides medications?
The other treatments to help with MS are physical therapy -- stretching and strengthening exercises are helpful for retaining mobility and coordination. Many people with MS eventually work with physical therapists to remain physically independent for as long as possible. Counseling and healthy dieting are also valuable for people who have been diagnosed with MS.
What are my risk factors for multiple sclerosis?
While doctors are not entirely sure what causes some people to get multiple sclerosis while others do not, there are certain factors that may increase your risk. If you're concerned about your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, talk to your doctor about your risk factors and what you can do to reduce your risk or prevent multiple sclerosis. Some risk factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity, family history and other genetic factors cannot be controlled, while other risk factors, such as smoking and vitamin D intake, can be controlled. Ask your doctor to discuss your risk factors with you and help you come up with a plan to reduce your risk wherever possible. 
Which type of multiple sclerosis do I have?
There are several types of multiple sclerosis - relapse-remitting, progressive-relapsing, primary-progressive and secondary-progressive - and each type behaves differently. If you receive a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, ask your doctor which type you have and what it may mean for your treatment options. 
How does this multiple sclerosis medication work?
In an effort to manage your symptoms and slow or delay the progression of the disease, your doctor may prescribe medications. If your doctor prescribes medications, ask what the medications are for and how you should take them. You may also want to ask about any side effects you may experience while taking your medication, and which side effects warrant a call to the doctor. 
How do corticosteroids help alleviate MS flareups?
Corticosteroids administered through IVs are commonly used for acute MS attacks. These steroids decrease inflammation that puts pressure on nerves in the spine, helping to restore normal feeling and functioning throughout the body.
Is depression a symptom of multiple sclerosis?
Depression is not a symptoms of having MS, but it could very well be a result from having the disorder. There are support groups, therapies and medications for people with depression. If you feel you need help or are suffering from depression, see your doctor as soon as possible
What is my multiple sclerosis treatment plan?
After you've been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you'll need to work with your doctor to figure out a treatment plan that works for your symptoms and your lifestyle. Ask your doctor what treatment plan is being recommended, and whether treatment includes any medications or specialists. Your doctor should explain each aspect of the treatment plan in detail, so you fully understand your treatment options and how treatment will help you manage symptoms and slow the progression of your disease. 
Which medications are best for managing MS flare-ups?
Medications for multiple sclerosis are used to treat the symptoms and lessen the attacks, or slow the progression of the disease. What medications are used will depend on your symptoms, and the severity of the attacks. Some of the top medications for slowing the progression of MS include interferon beta-1a, peginterferon beta-1a, teriflunomide, fingolimod and mitoxantrone. Corticosteroids are used to reduce nerve inflammation, and plasma exchange (replacing the plasma proteins in your blood) is used if your symptoms are severe and steroids are of no use.

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