Managing Symptoms of MS with Diet, Exercise, Drugs, and Alternative Therapies
Why Is Staying Well with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Important?
Staying healthy is important for everyone, but people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have to pay extra attention to their health. Symptoms of MS, and sometimes the drugs used to treat the disease can have an impact on a patient's mobility, energy level, eating habits, and feelings, thereby compromising the their overall well-being.
Currently there's no cure or vaccine for MS. However, by learning how to cope with the disease, and using available treatments (medical and complementary) for symptoms of over the disease progression, a person can still try to stay well.
How Can Diet and Exercise Help Me Stay Well?
This disease affects people differently, and how it affects MS patients cannot be predicted. However, improvement of the aspects of health that we have some control over often improves quality of life.
Physical fitness and diet are two aspects of our lives over which we have some control. Studies have shown that for people with multiple sclerosis, regular aerobic exercise (exercise that raises the pulse and respiration rate) and a healthy diet have many benefits, including the following:
- Increased or at least maintained muscle strength
- Decreased fatigue (tiredness)
- Increased energy levels
- Increased endurance
- Increased bladder and bowel control
- Reduced feelings of depression
- Protected bone mass
A doctor or health care professional may refer a patient with MS to a nutritionist or physical therapist to help determine an appropriate diet and exercise plan.
How Can Drugs Help Me Stay Well?
Drugs used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis include:
- Corticosteroids: These affect immunologic actions, such as inflammation (swelling) and immune responses associated with multiple sclerosis may help expedite the recovery (but not necessarily reduce the severity) from multiple sclerosis attacks.
- Immune-modulating drugs: These decrease the ability of the immune cells to cause inflammation.
- Immunosuppressants: These are stronger medications that also interfere with the function of the immune system and can reduce inflammation.
What Alternative Therapies Are Available for Symptoms?
Some people with MS explore alternative forms of therapy and treatments, including many who are already taking drugs for the disease. Because most people who have the disease should be using prescription medication under the supervision of their doctor or health care professional, alternative therapies usually are used as complementary therapies, meaning that these therapies complement the traditional medical therapy prescribed by your doctor or health care professional.
Last Reviewed 9/11/2017
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