Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is an immune-mediated progressive disease that affects millions of people all around the world. It is a progressive disease that has no cure. Patients who suffer from MS must learn to cope with their illness in order to go on about their daily lives. The first part of this blog series focused on small lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your symptoms of MS. This article will focus on tips to help you regain function when your symptoms have greatly worsened.
One of the best things that you can do for your body whenever your symptoms have worsened to the point of loss of function is to undergo physical therapy. Trained physical therapists can help you work through your symptoms, regain most of your functions, and help you adapt to your disease. If your MS has progressed greatly, then you may not be able to regain your functions to their normal values, however a physical therapist can easily help you learn to work around your illness. With simple exercises, they can help you with your balance, your fatigue, your pain, your weakness and even your immobility. Physical therapists can offer you simple exercises that can be completed with them or at home that can help you rebuild your muscle mass and learn to cope with your illness.
The goal of physical therapy is to improve your movement and function through exercise. Often, with MS patients, if you are able to improve your movement and function then your pain levels will also be controlled. With MS, you will lose parts of the myelin sheaths that surround your neurons. Overtime, this demyelination that occurs can cause a myriad of symptoms. Primary symptoms include involuntary movements, lack of coordination, and muscle spasticity. These symptoms will not be able to be cured by a physical therapist, because they are a direct result of the demyelination of your neurons. Secondary symptoms are symptoms that stem directly from your primary symptoms. These can include pain, weakness, muscle tightening, balance issues, and general fatigue. A physical therapist can help you with your secondary symptoms, and often times can even remove these secondary symptoms from your life. If you believe that a physical therapist may be able to help you, contact your primary care physician for a referral to a therapist that specializes in MS patients.
For patients who suffer from chronic illnesses such as MS, good nutrition is vital to staying healthy. It is very important that MS patients have good nutrition in order to reduce their symptoms and stunt the progression of their disease. Proper nutrition can also help patients boost their immune systems, gain muscle mass, and feel energized. Patients with MS should adhere to the following tips to ensure they are eating the right foods:
- Choose a variety of foods to eat each day to get a myriad of nutrients and vitamins.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Weight fluctuations can be a hindrance to MS patients.
- Choose foods that are naturally low in cholesterol and saturated fats. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy products.
- Limit your daily intake of sugar to reduce flare ups of your symptoms.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially if your symptoms prevent you from being able to cook often. If your MS has progressed to the point where it is difficult for you to cook, then consider buying pre-made healthy meals at your local grocery store or deli. You could also have a home health aide come to your home weekly to fix you healthy meals that you can easily reheat and enjoy throughout the week.
MS is a difficult disease to cope with. Whether you are newly diagnosed, or you have been dealing with the disease for years, you may often have times in which you just feel blue about your prognosis. To ensure that you are healthy and happy, it is vital that you keep your spirits high. A great way to keep your spirits high and your mind healthy is to join a support group or go to counseling sessions. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area for MS patients or for a referral to a psychologist who sees patients with chronic illnesses. Simply talking with other patients with MS or talking with a counselor can greatly improve your mood and keep you focused on your daily life. It is vital that patients with MS go on with their lives on a day to day basis. No one knows what the future holds, and if patients with MS begin thinking the worst about their future, then they will not be able to enjoy their life in the present. If you are struggling with coming to terms with your diagnosis, then strongly consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor. They can help you find your way again and learn to deal with all of the aspects of your disease.
Multiple Sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease that is highly progressive. It is a disease that waxes and wanes. For this reason, patients may feel great one day, then feel completely different the next. If you are dealing with MS and your symptoms have greatly progressed, then follow these tips to ensure that you are living your life to the fullest. These tips can help you regain some of your everyday functions and learn to live with your loss of function. The greatest tip of all is to talk to your doctor about all of your feelings. Doctors who see MS patients often understand the pitfalls of the disease and understand how demanding it can be on patients. Speak with them frequently about your symptoms and your feelings, and they can help you cope easier and give you advice on how to deal with your symptoms so that you can live a normal life.
For other related articles about Multiple sclerosis in our home care blog: