multiple sclerosis

7 Diet and Exercise Tips to Improve Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Have you ever eaten extra healthy for a few days? Meals consisted of green leafy vegetables, lots of fruit, lean protein, wholesome grains, and heart-healthy fats. After following a nutrient-dense diet for several days, you may have noticed improved energy levels, less brain fog, and better sleep. This is because the foods you eat have a significant impact on overall health, especially in patients with multiple sclerosis.  Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease. The body mistakenly attacks healthy myelin cells around the spinal cord and brain. This results in symptoms like fatigue, changes in vision, mobility issues, pain, cognitive dysfunction, and even depression.  Ongoing research and patient experience show that specific diets accompanied by a balanced exercise program can relieve many multiple sclerosis symptoms. For some, making a few changes to food choices is enough to feel some sense of improvement. For others, a new diet strategy may be a better option to reduce existing symptoms and prevent new ones from popping up.  Specialty Diets for Multiple Sclerosis Nutrition plays an important role in regulating and improving health. When you have a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis, diet is key in managing symptoms and preventing episodes. For many years, researchers …

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What is The Link Between Depression and Multiple Sclerosis?

When you have a condition like multiple sclerosis, it’s vital to pay close attention to the physical symptoms and limitations of the condition. Things like difficulty walking, changes in vision, and increasing fatigue all have a significant impact on daily life and can provide signals of disease progress. Because patients and doctors alike can be so focused on the physical symptoms, it’s easy to forget about the mental and emotional implications of multiple sclerosis. Mood changes, like depression and anxiety, are just as important as physical changes. Depression has been found to be more common in patients with MS compared to the general population. As a result, it can make other symptoms feel worse, impact relationships, and increase the risk of suicide.  What is Depression? When dealing with symptoms of multiple sclerosis, it’s normal to feel extremely sad from time to time. You may feel especially down or even hopeless after experiencing an exacerbation or relapse. While it is normal to have these moments, there is a difference between feeling extremely sad and being depressed.  Depression is much more than being sad. It’s a serious mental illness marked by commons symptoms like: Depressed mood Loss of interested in activities Changes in appetite and weight Changes …

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5 Signs of Cognitive Impairment in MS

If you’ve been living with multiple sclerosis, you might have noticed that you don’t feel as sharp as usual. Maybe you’re having trouble remembering information or concentrating on certain tasks. You may even feel like your brain is constantly in a fog. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.   Although many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are related to movement and balance, cognitive changes are also very common with MS. Not everyone with MS will experience cognitive impairment. Research has found that nearly half of people with MS show some signs of cognitive dysfunction. About 40% of MS patients have mild cognitive dysfunction, and 5% to 10% have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.   Cognitive changes are often one of the first signs of multiple sclerosis. They can occur before an official diagnosis. But these changes can occur during any course of the disease, including clinically isolated syndrome. They can also appear in radiologically isolated syndrome and may appear before structural abnormalities are found on an MRI. However, studies have shown the prevalence and severity of cognitive impairment appear to be greatest in patients with secondary progressive MS and primary progressive MS.   Here are some things to …

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How Is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?

If you’ve been having unexplained symptoms like numbness, fatigue, or cognitive changes, you might suspect a neurological disease like multiple sclerosis. However, getting a definitive multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be difficult and can often take years. Because MS is often confused with other conditions like lupus and Lyme disease, your doctor will have to rule out any other possibilities first.   How Is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?  To make a diagnosis of MS, your doctor must first find evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system (CNS). The two main areas of damage are found on the brain and spinal cord. Your doctor must also find evidence that the damage occurred at different points in time. This will help determine if you have MS or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). Although CIS has characteristics of MS, it represents only one episode of symptoms and doesn’t mean you will develop MS.  In addition to finding evidence of damage to the CNS, your doctor will use several other methods to determine if you have MS. Some of these methods include taking a full medical history, a neurological exam, and other tests.   Medical History   Your doctor will take a comprehensive look …

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4 Types of Multiple Sclerosis (Plus Two You Didn’t Know About)

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune condition that impacts the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. It affects nearly one million people in the United States and more than 2.3 million people worldwide. MS is a progressive disease, meaning it can get worse over time without treatment. However, treatment can’t always slow the progression of the disease. There are four types of multiple sclerosis: clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting MS, primary progressive MS, and secondary progressive MS.   Common symptoms of MS that can occur at any stage include numbness and tingling, muscle spasms, loss of balance, and spasticity. Other symptoms that can occur with the condition include fatigue, cognitive changes, and weakness.   Multiple sclerosis is a complex and unpredictable disease. Because there is no way to know for certain how someone’s MS will progress, there is no set timeline for how long it will take to move from one stage to the next.   Clinically Isolated Syndrome   Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) is one type of multiple sclerosis. With CIS, the first episode of neurologic symptoms lasts at least 24 hours. These include:  Numbness or tingling   Dizziness and shakiness  Muscle stiffness  Paralysis  Vision changes, such as double vision  Bladder or bowel dysfunction   CIS is caused by inflammation or demyelination, which is the loss of myelin. Myelin is a protective sheath of fatty tissue that protects the nerve cells, including those in the brain and spinal cord. Damage to the myelin sheath interrupts nerve signals from …

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Medications for Multiple Sclerosis

Although there is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, there are several medications that can help improve the quality of life for MS patients. Medications can help ease symptoms, keep the disease from progressing, and reduce the frequency of a relapse. Medications for multiple sclerosis include pills, injections, or infusions. Finding the right medication to treat your MS may take time. It may also take time to see improvements. Once you have established a treatment plan with your healthcare providers, continue to follow it until your providers tell you to stop. Make sure you communicate any side effects you experience. Remember that each person’s body may respond to medication differently. Disease-modifying Drugs Disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) are a group of drugs that modify or influence the underlying disease course. They are also known as immunomodulatory drugs. DMDs target some aspect of the inflammatory process of MS. This reduces the frequency and severity of relapses. DMDs also help prevent new brain lesions. The FDA has approved 17 disease-modifying agents for MS as of 2019. DMDs cannot reverse or halt MS. But they can slow disease progression. This means less damage will accumulate over time, resulting in fewer relapses and symptoms. It is …

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6 Possible Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis, you probably have a lot of questions about your diagnosis. You might be wondering how you developed the disease and what your outlook is. While the course of the disease will vary from person to person, an exact cause has yet to be identified. Scientists have found that a combination of factors often causes multiple sclerosis.  What happens when you have MS?  Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells rather than protecting them. It is unclear why the immune system does this or what prevents it from being able to identify healthy cells versus invaders. Because the autoimmune response is unknown, there aren’t any absolute cures for autoimmune disorders.   When it comes to MS, the immune system attacks healthy cells in the myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve signals from the brain to other parts of the body are interrupted. This damage can cause symptoms such as muscle spasms, stiffness, and weakness, or lack of coordination.  What are some of the causes of MS?  There are several factors that researchers believe can cause multiple sclerosis. Genetics  Genetics is one possible cause of multiple sclerosis. Although MS is not an …

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MS and Stress: Managing the Holidays

Stress is a normal part of life for many people. For some, holidays can be especially stressful because of gift buying, traveling, and making holiday dinners. If you have multiple sclerosis, the stress of the holidays can be compounded by managing your illness on top of everything else.  Living with MS is not only a physical hurdle, but the effort it takes to manage the illness can increase your stress levels. During the holidays, you might feel like you need to explain your condition and request certain accommodations for traveling, dinner parties, or other holiday events. This can get emotionally exhausting, and you might feel yourself getting anxious whenever you have to socialize. There is also the stress of adapting to new symptoms as the disease progresses and the unpredictable nature of MS.   Studies have shown that stressful life events are associated with a significant increase in the risk of MS exacerbations. The impact can last weeks or months after the onset of the stressor. For example, if you have MS and you lose your job or have concerns about paying hospital bills, you may notice that your flare-ups are more frequent or worse months after the event has passed.   Long-term or continuous …

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Unexpected Warning Signs of MS

Multiple sclerosis can be one of the most difficult conditions to diagnose because of the variety of symptoms it causes and the ways they present. Most people with MS experience their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40. Sometimes, symptoms can come on suddenly and go away just as quickly. Other times, symptoms will start minimally and progressively get worse. Because MS effects everyone differently, the early warning signs for one person may not be the same as they are for someone else.  Many people with MS experience common symptoms like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, or changes in gait. Other common symptoms of MS include fatigue, bladder problems, and “MS hug.” Although there are other warning signs to look out for, it’s important to recognize that having one or all of them doesn’t mean you have MS. If your body attacks your nervous system just once, and the symptoms last for at least 24 hours, but other conditions have been ruled, your doctor will likely diagnose you with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). While CIS can develop into multiple sclerosis, that isn’t always the case.  Here are some early warning signs of multiple sclerosis to look out for.   Tremor   Tremor is commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease, but some people with multiple sclerosis may experience tremors too. Both diseases affect the central nervous system, but they have different causes. MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath that forms around nerve fibers, while Parkinson’s is caused by nerve damage to nerve cells in …

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Integrative Treatment for MS

Managing multiple sclerosis can be difficult, especially when it comes to choosing between different treatment options. You want a treatment plan that is going to help minimize your symptoms while being mindful of any side effects. All the while making sure that your mental health is being protected.  Many patients with MS use an integrative or complementary approach to manage their symptoms and reduce relapses. That’s because these approaches don’t just focus on the physical nature of MS, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual effects. The mind-body connection works both ways: although MS primarily affects the central nervous system, patients often experience mental and emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Similarly, studies have shown that having a positive outlook can improve MS recovery and health.   What is integrative medicine?  Integrative medicine includes a full spectrum of physical factors, as well as emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental factors that can influence someone’s health. It emphasizes a holistic, whole person view rather than a segmented one that only focuses on one aspect of managing a health condition. Integrative medicine uses appropriate, evidence-based therapeutic and lifestyle approaches to achieve optimal health and healing. It emphasizes the relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider(s) because this too can affect the healing process. …

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