Treating the MS Relapse
Multiple sclerosis is a complex neurological disorder that causes a variety of troublesome manifestations, such as nerve problems, coordination problems and other symptoms. MS is considered an immune system disorder in which the body attacks its own systems. A number of effective treatments for MS are available. However, relapses can occur in which problems return, making life more challenging for those dealing with this condition.
Why Do MS Relapses Occur?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the myelin coatings of the nervous system become inflamed. Even when taking medications and following other treatment regimes, relapses can occur. Generally, stress, infection from colds or flu, fatigue and heat can trigger a relapse. An MS relapse can last for a single day or can remain for several weeks or months. Some patients experience frequent relapses, but others may have very few relapse events. The unpredictability of multiple sclerosis makes individualized treatment critical for effective patient care. Your physician will encourage you to stay alert to possible relapse signs and provide you with treatment to manage these occasional relapses.
Signs of an MS Relapse
An individual may notice a number of physical problems that signal a relapse of their condition:
- Muscle weakness – Weakness can occur suddenly, making everyday activities like opening a jar or walking upstairs more difficult.
- Vision disturbances – Blurriness or double vision can occur, making tasks more difficult.
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities – The individual may notice difficulty in using their hands, due to numbness or tingling.
- Difficulty with concentration – The individual may have to read a passage several times, or may have problems remembering information.
- Dizziness – Sudden bouts of light-headedness can occur when getting to a standing position or when walking.
- Poor coordination – Problems with balance or a drunken gait can occur.
- Bowel or bladder changes – Urgency or problems with control can signal an MS relapse.
Treating MS Relapses
In some cases, no treatment is necessary for an MS relapse. The problems may last for 24 hours and then recede once the trigger is removed. However, if symptoms remain for more than a short time, your physician will prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the underlying inflammation. These medications do an excellent job of managing relapse symptoms, so that patients can resume their normal activities.