Multiple sclerosis (MS) is unpredictable disorder. Most newly diagnosed people have relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), which is characterized by recurring relapses, or flare-ups, that can be triggered by things like fatigue, infections, and illnesses.
These relapses can last anywhere from a few days to several months and, depending on their severity, may be disruptive to your day-to-day life.
Beyond sticking to your treatment plan as prescribed and living a healthy lifestyle, there’s no proven way to completely prevent MS flare-ups. But, the good news is, you can manage MS symptoms naturally.
These strategies will help empower you to lessen the severity or keep symptoms at bay, while reducing your stress levels during a relapse.
1. How to be prepared...
The first step to managing a flare-up is to be prepared in case one occurs. Having a place to keep all your pertinent information in one place will help you be prepared. The Ultimate MS Warrior Planner is a great way to do this. Inside you can keep a list of all your medications, your Neurologists information, set daily and weekly goals, monthly intentions all with inspiration and encouragement.
Keep your planner in an easily accessible place in your home.
Since MS relapses can affect your mobility, consider making transportation arrangements with trusted friends or family members in the event that you can’t drive due to the severity of symptoms.
2. Monitor your symptoms...
A relapse can be minor or can have more severe symptoms. In some cases, especially if there are symptoms never felt before, you may need to go to the hospital.
Seek emergency care if you experience symptoms such as significant pain, vision loss, or greatly reduced mobility.
If you think you feel an MS flare-up starting up, monitor your symptoms closely over the first 24 hours. Write down any symptoms as they come up. You can use The Ultimate MS Warrior Planner to do this.
It’s helpful to make sure that what you’re experiencing is actually a relapse, and not a Pseudoexacerbation.
External factors like temperature, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, or infection can sometimes exacerbate symptoms in a way that feels similar to an MS flare-up. Try to stay mindful of any day-to-day fluctuations you’ve been experiencing in those areas.
Although the symptoms of an MS flare-up vary from person to person, some of the most common ones include:
If one or more of these symptoms is present for more than 24 hours, you may be having a relapse.
However, not all relapses require a hospital visit or even treatment. Minor sensory changes or increased fatigue may be signs of a relapse, but the symptoms can often be managed at home.
I specialize in empowering individuals to increase energy levels, manage MS symptoms and improve overall health and well-being. Schedule your complimentary MS Energy Audit with me.
3. Contact your Neurologist...
If you believe you’re having a relapse, contact your Neurologist right away.
Even if your symptoms seem manageable and you don’t feel like you need medical attention, your doctor needs to know about every relapse to accurately monitor any MS activity and progression and to assess how well your MS medications are working.
It’s helpful to be able to answer key questions about your symptoms, including when they started, which parts of your body are affected, and how the symptoms are impacting your daily life.
Try to be as detailed as possible. Make sure to mention any major changes to your lifestyle, diet, or medication that your doctor may not know about.
4. Explore your treatment options...
If the intensity of MS relapses has increased since your initial diagnosis, it may be useful to talk with your Neurologist about a new treatment plan. You can also add-in holistic remedies on top of Western medicine, to get on top of MS and manage them long-term.
It’s also common that treating any new symptoms or exacerbation of symptoms can shorten the duration and prevent further nerve damage. Some relapses are treated with a high dose course of corticosteroids, taken over a period of 3 to 5 days. These steroid treatments are typically administered in a hospital or infusion center.
Working with me, your Certified Master Health & Wellness Transformational Coach, we will put a plan of action together, so that you can begin to heal your body from the inside out.
5. Share with others...
Once you’ve contacted your Neurologist, consider letting your friends and family know that you’re experiencing symptoms. Your symptoms may mean that you need to change some of your social plans or support needs.
If you need assistance with any household tasks or transit accommodations, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes people feel embarrassed about asking for help, but your loved ones will want to support you in any way that they can.
If you work, it can also be useful to inform your employer that you’re experiencing a relapse, especially if your performance at work might be affected. If possible, take time off, working from home, or restructuring your break times may help you balance your career responsibilities with your health.
6. Be mindful of your emotions
A flare-up can be stressful and brings all kinds of emotions. Symptoms like fatigue can affect quality of life and cause feelings of sadness and/or depression.
People sometimes feel angry about the situation, scared for the future, or worried about how the condition affects relationships with others. If you’re experiencing any of these responses, remind yourself that the feelings will pass with time. I find that journaling and writing emotions down on paper, helps release negative emotions, and the toxins that stress causes on the body.
Mindfulness exercises like deep breathing and meditation can be effective ways to manage stress and anxiety. Even taking a few minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breathing may help.
Take time to rest, practice self-care, and doing activities you enjoy doing, can all help you feel better physically and emotionally. Your Neurologist or Wellness Coach can help you determine how much rest and movement is best, based on your symptoms and mood.
If you start to feel overwhelmed by your emotions. Talking about your feelings with someone impartial can provide a new perspective on things. As a patient of MS myself, I can relate with you, read my story here.
Although there is no way to predict when an MS flare-up will take place, you can take holistic steps to manage symptoms. My Fatigued to Fabulous 90-day program is my flagship program and has helped people all over the globe to heal their bodies and reverse symptoms.
Remember that you’re not alone.
Build a trusting relationship with your Neurologist and/or Wellness Coach so that you can feel comfortable discussing any changes in your condition right away.