Multiple Sclerosis

Living with MS

MS and exercising

No matter stage of multiple sclerosis you have, you can benefit from exercising. Even people with advanced multiple sclerosis can show some improvement. Exercising regularly can help improve:

  • Heart health
  • Physical strength
  • Bladder and bowel function
  • Feelings of fatigue and depression
  • Overall attitude
  • Participation in social environments

When you have MS, you do not need to make your exercises intense or lengthy. Start out slow and go at your own pace. Even walking for 20 minutes can benefit your health. Make your exercises fun for you because that will motivate you to continue your workout program. Listed below are a few ways to ensure you get the most out of your workout and that you're safe doing it.

  • Set goals --This can help you see more tangible benifits from exercise
  • Prepare -- Make sure you find a cool, well-ventalated area to exercise, wear lose fitting, breathable clothing, and make sure you have plenty of water on hand.
  • Find a partner -- Having a friend to exercise with can be fun and help keep both of you motivated
  • Pace yourself -- Take small steps so you don't get too frustrated and give up
  • Listen to your body -- During your workout, pay attention to your body, and the signals it's giving you
  • Cool down -- Be sure to gradually reduce the intensity as you reach the end of your workout
  • Consult your doctor -- Talk with your physician before starting any exercise program

Vaccinations to prevent other diseases

People with MS have a higher chance of contracting other diseases, so they should take any precautions they can. One of the biggest precaution that they should take is getting vaccinations. Vaccinations that people with MS should get are listed below.

  • Varicella vaccine - specifically considered for people with MS who: have never had chicken pox, lack evidence of proper immunity, and are considering taking MS medicine that has the potential to suppress cell mediated immunity
  • Seasonal flu shot - the injectable flu shot is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age
  • Hepatitis B vaccine - recommended for all children, adolescents, and adults who are at risk of contracting this life-threatening disease
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine - recommended for women with MS
  • Smallpox vaccine - should be made available to people with MS who exposed to smallpox because the risks associated with not getting vaccinated are too great
  • Shingles vaccine - if the person has had chicken pox or tested positive for the antibodies, this is a recommended vaccination

Important relationships with MS

Important relationships are a huge part of someones life and take alot of time and energy. Add on the challenges of MS and those relationships just got a little bit harder to handle. There are some things you can do to balance dealing with MS and maintaning solid relationships.

First you need to decide who you are going to tell and who you are not going to tell. Telling someone about MS is not the first thing you want to tell someone nor the last. You need to figure out how someone is going to take it and figure out the best way to tell them. Your family, closest friends, and significant other should be the ones you consider telling first.

The next thing you need to do is understand that in your relationships, you are not the only one dealing with the disease. When one person in a couple has MS, the other one is dealing with it as well. Maintain the balance of giving and recieving in the relationship. It is just as hard for them as it is for you.

If you are planning on being that is great. Having a happy family is very possible while living with MS, just be sure to let you kids know what is going on so they do not worry.

Living with MS can be a very hard thing, but it can also make friendships, relationships, and family relationships much stronger as long as you both are understanding of the issues at hand.

Importance of sleep

Importance of sleep to people with MS is a very under recognized issue. As many with Multiple Sclerosis know, the fatigue that comes with the disease has strong negative effect on everyday life and makes the simplest endevors seem huge. Many things affect fatigue but a bad sleeping habits make it much worse. Getting a good night's sleep helps to alleviate many common symptoms of MS, including chronic fatigue, mood and memory problems. Daytime naps can also help, but only if napping does not interfere with night-time sleep. Sleep helps give an idividual energy to do the daily activies he/she need and want to do.

Many with MS find difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of a few factors such as stress,spasticity,inactivity, and depression. As stated by WebMD there are a few things you can do to improve your sleeping habits.

  • Relax in the evening before going to bed. Try to not rehash the day's problems or worry about tomorrow's schedule.
  • Go to bed when you're tired. Try to be consistent about the time you go to bed.
  • Prepare yourself for bed by wearing comfortable nightclothes, adjust your bed pillows in a comfortable position, turn off the lights, adjust the temperature in your bedroom, and position yourself comfortably in your bed.
  • If you do not fall asleep after 10-15 minutes -- get up! Do not lie in bed and watch the clock or count the cracks in the wall. Find something to do that is relaxing to you, such as putting together a puzzle, reading, or writing a letter to a friend. Rather than watching TV, which is a passive activity, do something active so that natural tiredness can build up. Remember your bed is only for sleeping. Any of the above activities should be done out of bed. Return to the bed only when you feel tired.

Also, try to adhere to the following suggestions.

  • Avoid sleeping during the day; if you nap, do not nap for long periods of time or near bedtime.
  • Do not consume caffeine within four to six hours of bedtime
  • Do not smoke or use nicotine products close to bedtime or during the night.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages within four to six hours of bedtime.
  • If running to the bathroom is keeping you up at night, reduce fluid intake in the evening. It is still important to drink the recommended amount of fluids during the day. Also go to the bathroom immediately before you go to bed.
  • Do not go to bed hungry or soon after a heavy meal. If you are hungry, eat a light snack or drink a glass of warm milk.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably during the day. Avoid vigorous exercise three hours before bedtime.
  • Set your alarm to wake up at the same time every day, even on days when you're off work and on the weekends.

If these do not work you can contact a doctor or sleep specialist to determine what is causing your sleep promlems.

Eating healthy with MS

Like any chronic disease, maintenance of general good health is very important for people with MS. Carefully planned and well balanced diets will help achieve this goal. Specialists in MS recommend that people with MS adhere to the same low-fat, high fiber diet that is recommended for the general population. Evidence is showing that a diet low in saturated fats and supplemented by Omega 3 (from fatty fishes, cod-liver oil, or flaxseed oil) and Omega 6 (fatty acids from sunflower or safflower seed oil and possibly evening primrose oil) may have some benefit for people with MS.
This is an important principle for optimal health that is normally recommend for everyone. However, evidence found that for people with severe autoimmune disease such as MS, it's even more important. Some of the most dramatic improvements seen in patients using nutritional changes have come about as the result of eating a majority of their food raw instead of cooked.

So for people with MS, such foods as these are to be avoided: Meat, including processed meat, salami, sausages, canned meat; Eggs except for egg whites; Dairy products; that is, avoid milk, cream, butter, ice cream and cheeses. Low fat milk or yoghurt is not acceptable. Cow’s milk and dairy products are best avoided altogether as the protein is likely to be as much of a problem as the saturated fat, given recent evidence. Soy products or rice or oat milk are good substitutes; Any biscuits, pastries, cakes, muffins, doughnuts or shortening, unless fat-free; Commercial baked goods; Prepared mixes; Snacks like chips, corn chips, party foods; Margarine, shortening, lard, chocolate, coconut and palm oil. There is some debate about chocolate as it does have some good antioxidants, but most chocolate is also loaded with saturated fat, so it is one of the foods to avoid with MS. Cocoa, however, is a natural vegetable product with only a little saturated fat, and the occasional teaspoon in a glass of soy milk for example, as hot chocolate, is fine; Fried and deep fried foods except those fried without oil or with just a dash of olive oil. It is important not to heat oils if possible, and if you want to use just a little extra virgin olive oil, the most stable of the oils, it is a good idea to put a little water in with it when frying to keep its temperature down. Things like fish and chips deep fried in, say, sunflower oil, are bad, in that the oil changes its chemical structure when heated in this way, and tends to be left in the vat for days, with all sorts of unpredictable chemical changes happening to the fats; Most fast foods; and Other fats and oils.

What to know from the Pros

When you or someone close to you has been given a diagnosis of MS, there is probably a lot of questions and concerns. You may be feeling too overwhelmed by the news that you are not sure how or what kinds of questions to ask. It really helps by making your MS management your first priority by help ensuring that you and your doctors time are well spent during your next visit. A strong partnership between you and your doctor is the key to maintaining and controlling your MS. Together, you will work towards your mutual goal of delaying disability though an agreed upon course of action, specifically for your needs. Make sure to be prepared to discuss any progress in your condition, including current medications and reactions to them since your last visit. Weather they are emotional or physical, if they are working, your feelings towards taking them, and if there is an improvement.To help keep you prepared, and ready to discuss it during your next visit with your doctor, there are some vital questions you and your doctor should ask one another.
To ask your doctor:

  • What kind of MS you have
  • Will you have new symptoms or will they get worse over time
  • What can you do to manage your symptoms
  • How will you know if the drugs/treatment are working
  • Side effects that should be expected
  • How would MS effect your sex life or having children
  • Your current status of EDSS score ( Expanded Disability Status Scale)
  • What you can do to improve or maintain the score
  • Should you have any tests to monitor the disease and if there are any risks involved.
  • If there are any new clinical trials that you may be a candidate for
  • Can or should you still exercise
  • Other treatment options
  • If there are any local support groups

The doctor will ask:

  • When did you start experiencing symptoms
  • Have the symptoms been continuous or occasional
  • How severe are the symptoms
  • What seems to improve your symptoms
  • What appears to worsen your symptoms
  • Does anyone in your family have MS