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Multiple Sclerosis Awareness: Together We Are Stronger

Do you know someone living with Multiple Sclerosis? If so, this month serves as an additional opportunity to take the time to show you care about them. It’s important to keep in mind that living with a disability can make people feel helpless, inadequate, and at times like they don’t matter anymore.

Taking the time to call, bring dinner over, or just drop by to see if they need help are some of the simplest gestures that go a long way with showing you care. In addition, becoming educated about Multiple Sclerosis can help you become a more consistent pillar of support to others while also understanding potential personal signs of MS.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

The cause of MS is currently unknown. It is generally believed that MS is an autoimmune disease. Normally, your immune system helps to fight foreign attackers such as viruses and bacteria. In an autoimmune disease, something triggers the immune system to attack itself.

How Is MS Diagnosed?

When doctors diagnose MS, they may use a few different tests. These tests help doctors eliminate other potential conditions and zero in on a diagnosis. These main tests include:

1. Neurological exam

This is one of the first things a doctor will do to assess whether or not you may have MS. A series of tests that evaluates a person’s cognition, coordination and strength, vision and hearing, and other senses.

2. MRI

Using a machine that takes pictures of the inside of a person’s body helps doctors examine the nervous system for damage. Although, since the damage of MS can look like the damage caused by other conditions, this test isn’t always conclusive

3. Spinal fluid test

Checking your spinal fluid for abnormalities can be another useful test.

How you can help your doctor reach a diagnosis

Medical history- give your doctor a thorough history of your own health and that of your family members.

Journal your symptoms- keep track of any symptoms you are experiencing and relay those directly to your doctor.

Getting Treatment for MS

MSLifelines talks about the importance of seeking treatment on soon after diagnosis. Why? Because MS can still be active, even if outward signs aren’t yet apparent.

Tips for Living with MS

  1. Fight back with food- Eat a diet rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Move more- just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity twice a week can help reduce fatigue and depression among those living with MS.
  3. Get plenty of Vitamin D- adequate Vitamin D can help improve pain and energy levels.
  4. Stop smoking- Smoking cigarettes is one of three environmental factors strongly tied to multiple sclerosis risk, and continuing to smoke once you have MS seems to increase the damage to your brain.
  5. Manage stress- Stress worsens multiple sclerosis symptoms, but MS can also be stressful. Stress management techniques such as asking for help with certain tasks, learning how to prioritize, managing your time effectively, and doing deep-breathing or relaxation exercises should all be on your to-do list.
  6. Get plenty of sleep- Try developing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, as well as a soothing bedtime ritual. MS symptoms such as leg pain and spasms may also be preventing restorative sleep. Let your doctor know if your MS management plan isn’t allowing you to get the sleep you need.

Whether supporting a friend or family member living with MS or concerned about potential symptoms you are experiencing, it’s important to be patient but proactive.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to help raise awareness and educate yourself about Multiple Sclerosis all month long.