Today we will be discussing MS and the steps that can be taken to support those affected by multiple sclerosis.
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis is a complex disease as it affects every person differently. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, an estimated 100,000 Canadians are living with MS today. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults, aged 15 to 40, it can also affect younger children and older adults.
What are some common symptoms in MS?
Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. They vary from person to person and can fluctuate within the same person.
Suggested management techniques for MS symptoms
- Balance/Dizziness—if you are experiencing balance or dizziness as a result of MS, this can sometimes be overcome with a walking aid. Another suggestion is having a home assessment for safety conducted by an occupational therapist to identify potential hazards and suggest strategies for improving safety around the house.
- Depression—if MS is causing you to feel symptoms relating to depression, counselling can often be a good first step for managing depressive feelings. It’s also wise to inform your doctor of your feelings and ask for their advice.
- Fatigue—if you are experiencing tiredness as a result of MS, you may find that changes in lifestyle may help. Energy conservation counselling, mobility aids, air conditioning, regular exercise, and medication, are all possible ways to manage fatigue. Be sure to speak with a doctor to discuss what will work best for you.
- Weakness—if MS is causing you to feel weak, physiotherapy might be a suitable option to consider. Physiotherapists can suggest a stretch and strengthen program to maximize muscle potential and improve general strength.
- Dry Mouth—if you are experiencing dry mouth due to MS, proper hydration, lozenges and chewing gum may help moderate your symptoms.
- Difficulty speaking—if MS is affecting your speech, a speech and language pathologist may be able to assess and suggest interventions to improve communication ability. Speak to your doctor for more information about seeking the help of a speech and language pathologist.
- Tremor—if MS is contributing to a tremor, consultation with occupational and physical therapy around issues related to activities of daily living and safety may be a helpful management technique.
Can MS be cured?
Currently there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, there are treatment options that can help manage the disease. Treatment options include:
- Disease-Modifying Therapies—medications capable of modifying or influencing the underlying disease
- Relapse Management Therapies—steroid medications that help to decrease the severity and duration of MS relapses
- Symptom Management Therapies—medications that help ease MS related symptoms such as fatigue, mobility impairment, and pain
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine—a broad range of approaches that often include natural health products, herbs, homeopathic medicine, vitamins, massage, meditation and prayer
- Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy—the goal of rehabilitation and physical therapy is to improve and/or maintain physical function.
For more information on these and other treatment options for MS, set up an appointment with your doctor or visit the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada at www.mssociety.ca