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“Noyes, Katia, and Bianca Weinstock-Guttman. “Impact of diagnosis and early treatment on the course of multiple sclerosis.” The American journal of managed care 19, no. 17 Suppl. 2013.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerve in your eyes. It results in many problems with balance, muscle control, vision, and other basic functions of the body.[ref]Multiple sclerosis. National Health Service.[/ref] Since multiple sclerosis is very unpredictable, it is very difficult to tell if your condition will improve or worsen over time or whether the disease will be mild or worsen over time.
How To Cope With MS Unpredictability
As you live with MS for a period of time, you will understand your condition better, but it will always remain unpredictable. Though dealing with that unpredictability can be overwhelming, there are ways to make it easier for you.
1. Start Your Treatment Early
Once you have been diagnosed with MS, you should start a disease-modifying treatment as early as possible. And once you start the treatment, it is important to stick with it for better outcomes.[ref]Noyes, Katia, and Bianca Weinstock-Guttman. “Impact of diagnosis and early treatment on the course of multiple sclerosis.” The American journal of managed care 19, no. 17 Suppl. 2013.[ref] Since there are many MS management options available, your doctor will help find the most suitable one for you. Starting a treatment plan early and sticking with it will help you in the following ways:
- It will help you prevent any permanent damage that may be caused by the disease.
- It will help reduce the severity and frequency of the disease.
- It will not only reduce the unpredictability associated with the disease but will also make you more prepared to handle it.
2. Educate Yourself About MS
When you are living with MS, it is crucial to educate yourself about it. Though MS is different for each and every individual, knowing in detail about the symptoms will help you manage it better. Here are a few tips to help you cope with MS.
- Read about MS as much as you can.
- Make sure everyone in the family learns about MS too.
- Let your family members know if any change in your behavior is due to MS so that they too can lend a helping hand.
- Ask your doctor as many questions you want in order to become an expert on the topic.
3. Know Your Body Thoroughly
Since each person’s body is different, MS affects each individual in a different way.[ref]Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.[ref] You should make an effort to not only understand the disease but your body as well. Here’s what you can do:
- Take a journal and jot down all your symptoms.
- Each time any of your symptoms gets worse, write down what the cause might be.
- Share the information in the journal with your doctor and your family to help them understand your condition better.
- If you are finding it difficult to go about your daily chores, plan a schedule to help you.
4. Practice Healthy Eating
There is no specific diet that will help you manage your MS symptoms, but it does not mean you should eat whatever you want. Eating nutritious foods will keep you healthy and will give you the energy to keep your disease under control. Even though home-cooked meals are the best option, you can plan ahead for those days when you need some quick energy and nutrition.
- Prepare and freeze simple soups and stews for days you feel fatigued.
- Always have fresh fruits and vegetables that can be eaten raw at your disposal.
- Keep a stock of high-fiber, high-protein, and low-fat snacks in your pantry.
5. Sleep Well
Being sleep deficient or deprived will leave your body feeling stressed. If pain or bladder issues are causing you to stay awake at night, talk to your doctor about them. They may be able to suggest treatment options to address your issues. The better you sleep, the better you will be able to tackle MS. Here are some tips to help you sleep better.
- Go to bed at the same time each night.
- Avoid drinking caffeine or exercising late in the evening.
- Limit your bedroom only for sleeping.
- Make your bedroom dark and keep all distractions away when you try to fall asleep.
6. Build A Strong Support System
When you are dealing with MS, you may not want to trouble others with your issues. But that is not the right way to go. You need to build a strong support system so that you can reach out to them in your time of need. Knowing you have people to depend on will give you the strength to manage your condition better. Here are some of the people you should include in your support system.
- Your physical therapist
- Your neurologist
- Your psychiatrist
- Your occupational therapist
- Your friends and family
- Your colleagues
7. Plan For The Future
One of the most important things you should do when managing MS is to plan for the future. Thinking about the long-term consequences of MS and what you can do about it will definitely come in handy. You just need to keep in mind that you don’t have to rush yourself. Take your time to plan a comfortable and convenient future for yourself. Here are some things you need to consider when dealing with MS.
- What are the financial implications of living with MS?
- What are the aspects covered by my health insurance?
- Do I need to move into a more convenient home as my disease progresses?
- What effect will MS have on my career?