As a patient living with MS, knowing when you are experiencing a relapse is not such an easy task. I used to think that the objective definition - new or worsening symptoms present for more than 24 hours - was a clear enough definition to inform me if my MS was relapsing or not. I was mistaken.
During the first few years of living with MS, relapses did seem to be more clear-cut. It was apparent when something new occurred or when previous symptoms got worse and I would call the nurse. Each time, she scheduled me to see the doctor the next morning and I knew what was coming. I would be sent down the hall to the infusion suite to begin a new round of intravenous steroids.
By the time I called the office, I had been experiencing the symptoms for a number of days. It was undeniable that they were not going to go away on their own. The new and/or worsening symptoms needed the help of steroids to get gone. There was only one thing which would have prevented the need for steroids and that was if a urinary tract infection (UTI) were present. So providing a quick urine sample to be tested was warranted. By the way, only once did I have a UTI when I thought I was having a relapse.
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Identifying the MS Relapse: When Should I Call the Doctor?