Living with multiple sclerosis can be difficult. MS is one of the most common demyelinating diseases affecting the nervous system. It can manifest in different parts of the body with varying severities.
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This disease has no specific roadmaps, which makes it more challenging. However, it doesn’t mean you have to lose hope and live in fear. You can take various measures to live a comfortable life with MS.
Here are our top 10 tips that make living with MS less challenging.
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercising is an excellent way to stay fit and manage the symptoms of your disease. Studies show that physically active people living with multiple sclerosis may experience less severe symptoms.
Exercise offers other benefits as well, including:
- Boosting mood and energy
- Increasing strength and mobility
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Reducing fatigue and depression
- Enhancing bladder and bowel functions
- Increasing bone density
- Promoting muscle and nervous system communications
You can choose any activity you prefer. Medium-intensity aerobics is fantastic for those with mild to moderate symptoms. Water exercises, Tai chi, and yoga are also excellent options for people living with MS. However, exercise does not need to be rigorous to provide benefits. Even light activities such as cleaning the house or gardening can help in managing symptoms.
Try to work out for at least an hour every week. The activities you choose should fit your limitations and capabilities. You can consult your doctor to create the best exercise program for your condition.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Another tip that makes living with multiple sclerosis easier is having a healthy and nutritious diet. A well-balanced diet helps you control your weight, which can lead to a decrease in clinical symptoms and a slower rate of disease progression.
A nutritious diet can also:
- Reduce fatigue
- Strengthen your heart
- Improve your overall health
- Increase muscle strength, mobility, and flexibility
- Help you maintain regular bladder and bowel functions
While there are no specific diets for people with multiple sclerosis, generally a diet consisting of whole grains, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables is advantageous. So increase your vegetable intake and reach for foods that reduce inflammation, such as berries, oranges, almonds, and oily fish.
While living with multiple sclerosis, avoid inflammation-inducing foods such as processed meats, sodas, and fried foods. Also, reduce your alcohol intake, as alcohol can negatively affect your coordination, exacerbate existing health conditions, and potentially interfere with your medications.
3. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for people living with MS. According to experts, this vitamin can:
- Lower the risk of MS
- Improve the quality of life of those with MS
- Delay the progression of the disease from relapsing-remitting MS to secondary-progressive MS
Therefore, you must have sufficient amounts of this vitamin in your body. The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. You can also eat vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, tuna, orange juice fortified with vitamin D, and egg yolks.
Another way of getting enough vitamin D to make living with multiple sclerosis easier is through supplements. It is recommended to speak with your physician before starting vitamin D supplements, as they may order a blood test and recommend doses of vitamin D higher than the average required daily intake.
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4. Keep Your Mind Sharp
Keep your mind sharp with mental activities so that your brain can compensate for the weakness the disease has caused throughout your body. MS can affect your brain as well. Mental activities will help you stay ahead of the disease.
Speak with your doctor to find the best mental exercises for your stage of the disease. These activities may include anything from doing puzzles and playing board games to challenging your mind by learning a new instrument or having deep conversations.
Practice the things you can’t do when living with multiple sclerosis. These exercises allow your brain to find new neural pathways and keep your mind sharp.
5. Get Enough Rest
Getting enough rest is crucial for anyone. Living with MS makes that challenging. Sleep disturbances are four times more prevalent among MS patients because MS:
- Increases anxiety and depression
- Causes over-napping due to fatigue
- Causes vitamin and nutrient deficiencies that help regulate sleep
- Interrupts essential bodily processes and disrupts the sleep-wake cycle
Create a Rest Schedule
Insomnia can also occur as a side effect of MS medications. To combat these effects and get enough rest while living with multiple sclerosis, try these tips and establish a rest schedule:
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool
- Don’t drink too many fluids before bed
- Take a short nap at a set time during the day
- Sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Create a pre-sleep schedule to prepare your body for rest
- Clear your mind before bed and try a relaxation technique
- Plan your exercise at least four hours before going to sleep
- Do not use screens that emit blue light such as phones or TVs before bed
Try these tips to get enough rest while living with multiple sclerosis. How much rest is enough? That depends on you and your body. Aim for eight hours, but focus more on the quality of your sleep, which matters most.
6. Track Your Symptoms
MS symptoms often change slowly. By tracking your symptoms while living with MS, you can stay on top of them and help your doctor determine the rate of disease progression. You can also know when to prepare for claiming disability.
Perform a baseline test upon diagnosis to check your mental and physical capabilities. Follow up annually and note changes in memory, cognition, and mobility.
Tracking your symptoms while living with multiple sclerosis will also allow your physical therapist, neurologist, and urologist to recommend the best treatments. However, be careful not to attribute every minor health issue to MS. It is best to monitor changes over a longer period of time versus day to day issues.
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7. Make Modifications to Your Life
MS is an auto-immune condition that makes you work harder for everything. Modify your daily tasks so that you use less energy and make living with MS easier.
Examples of such modifications that make living with multiple sclerosis easier include:
- Using online platforms such as Zoom or Skype instead of meeting people in person
- Buying pre-cut vegetables instead of cutting them yourself
- Reducing clutter by getting rid of the things you no longer need
- Putting the items you frequently use in places you can easily reach
- Adjusting the furniture around the house to make a clear path for yourself
Take short breaks throughout the day so you don’t wear yourself out. Don’t forget to go out every once in a while for a breath of fresh air.
8. Reach Out for Help
MS doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. You can reach out to others for help if you can’t handle the emotional burden of living with multiple sclerosis.
Having someone to confide in will lighten your mental load and help you manage your condition better. Here are some people you can reach out to for emotional support.
Therapists can help you navigate your emotions and grasp them better. MS comes with unbearable stress and depression. Mental health professionals can offer you safe solutions to battle these mental weights.
There is nothing like hearing the stories of others living with multiple sclerosis. Join an MS support group to meet others battling MS. Share your experiences and learn what has helped others live better with this condition.
Friends and Family
When you’re living with MS, your friends and family members are also going through a difficult journey. Talk to them about your fears and feelings.
Ask them for understanding instead of pity and tell them what you need from them. They have no other way of knowing. A diagnosis of MS is a learning process for all who are involved.
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9. Receive Treatment as Soon as Possible
Don’t delay your MS treatment. Seek medical help as soon as you are diagnosed with the disease, as any form of therapy can lower the risk of progression and make living with multiple sclerosis more manageable.
IVIG treatment and oral medications are effective forms of therapy for MS. Your physician might also prescribe other medications to manage symptoms such as bladder issues, depression, dizziness, tremors, and fatigue.
10. Stay Positive
The last thing you can do to make living with MS less challenging is to stay positive and not lose hope. While there is no cure for MS, numerous studies are in progress with the hopes of developing one.
There are also various treatments and gadgets, such as scooters, canes, and braces, to improve the quality of your life and help you avoid disability. Depression is one of the main side effects of living with multiple sclerosis. If you feel depressed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. You are not alone in your fight with MS.
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Your life changes after your MS diagnosis. You will have a new physical and emotional burden and symptoms that make some days harder. However, MS doesn’t have to keep you from being happy.
You can still be your old self and tackle new challenges by following the above tips. If you need help receiving the best treatment possible, AmeriPharma™ Specialty Pharmacy can help.
At AmeriPharma™ Specialty, we provide home infusion services and hard-to-find medications for patients struggling with multiple sclerosis. We can send a specialized infusion nurse to you at your convenience to administer your IVIG therapy.
We strive to make living with multiple sclerosis easier by offering various IVIG brands, full-service coordination, copay assistance, and 24/7/365 support in 40+ US states. Talk to a specialist today to start living your best life with MS.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your medical condition prior to starting any new treatment. AmeriPharma Specialty Care assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.
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Dr. Samantha Kaeberlein, PharmD was born and raised in Canton, OH. She received her pharmacy degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in 2020. The most rewarding part of her job is providing medical guidance so patients can make informed, well-rounded decisions regarding their healthcare. Her areas of expertise are geriatrics and long-term care. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and hunting for the best cup of coffee in America.