Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Caregiver Fatigue and MS

Caregiving is a special skill that some choose to develop professionally, but one that others learn out of necessity.

According to the Caregiver Action Network, there are 65 million family caregivers across the country. Nearly one-third of the adult population is providing an average of 20 hours of care per week. That’s an extensive, unpaid job, one that’s vital to protecting the health and safety of our loved ones, especially those with multiple sclerosis.

MS is a progressive disease that can cause significant physical disability and manifests with a broad range of symptoms, including weakness, sensory disturbance, bowel or bladder dysfunction, impaired mobility, and vision loss. As the abilities of a person living with MS gradually decline, caregivers must perform important functions to help those with MS stay more independent. Informal caregivers such as family members, friends, and neighbors help make it possible for people with MS to remain in their homes even as the need for personal assistance increases and physical and cognitive independence declines.

Caregivers have an important job, but may become highly burdened. Family caregiving, mostly unpaid, can cause emotional distress, isolation, feelings of abandonment, and economic difficulties. In contrast, however, caregiving can also strengthen relationships, improve coping skills, and encourage feelings of pride and accomplishment. Becoming a caregiver teaches you a lot about yourself and empathy.

Read this post in its entirety:
The Impact of Caregiver Fatigue in MS

Monday, August 22, 2016

Comparing the Effects of Steroids with MS Symptoms

During relapses in multiple sclerosis, new or worsening symptoms exacerbate (or flare) as the disease ramps up. To qualify as a relapse, the symptoms must last for more than 24-48 hours (opinions differ among neurologists) and the attack must not occur within 30 days of a previous relapse, otherwise it might be considered a continuation of the first.

These problems are one of the hallmarks of relapsing forms of MS: relapsing-remitting MS, secondary progressive MS with relapses, and progressive-relapsing MS. Due to recommended changes in the words used to describe forms of MS and types of disease activity, you may see different terms used.

To qualify as a true relapse, there must not be another reason that symptoms might be flaring. Heat, illness, infection, fever, and severe exhaustion must first be ruled out, as they are among the causes of a pseudoexacerbation.

The treatment for an MS relapse is often a 3-day or 5-day course of high-dose (1 gram) intravenous (IV) corticosteroids such as Solu-Medrol or Decadron, followed by an oral taper of steroids such as prednisone.

Read this post in its entirety:
Are the Side-Effects of Steroids Almost as Bad as MS Symptoms?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Managing Sensory Overload with MS

What do large parties, grocery stores, and movie theaters have in common? Lots and lots of sensory stimuli delivering a potentially overwhelming combination of sounds, smells, lights, colors, and motion in a crowded space.

Sometimes sensory input, such as sounds, can cause significant pain, physical response, confusion, and fatigue in persons living with multiple sclerosis. Symptoms such as hyperacusis and stimulus-sensitive myoclonus (add link to new post) can become quite debilitating. Too much sensory input may also interfere with a person’s ability to interact with others and to function socially or professionally.

Sensory overload is not something that just affects children with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can affect those of us living with MS.

Read this post in its entirety:
12 Ways to Manage Sensory Overload

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hyperacusis and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is associated with malfunctioning nerves in the central nervous system (CNS) caused by demyelination. That means the protective lining around your nerves has become damaged or is missing. Myelin helps nerve impulses travel along the CNS between the brain and body. Sometimes, a lack of myelin causes a misfiring of nerve impulses which might interrupt, subdue, or amplify the messages. It’s the misfirings that contribute to symptoms.

What is hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is commonly defined as a heightened, abnormal sensitivity or intolerance to ordinary, everyday sounds. Some 8-15 percent of the general population suffers from it. “Normal” sounds for you might be perceived as outrageously LOUD and painful to me. The effects of hyperacusis can range from mild to severe. But not all hyperacusis is the same; a recent literature review suggests there are four forms:

Read this post in its entirety:
Why Do I Startle So Easily and Sounds Are Too Loud?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pseudoatrophy and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that is often marked by changes in the brain. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), these changes can appear as lesions, “black holes," or brain atrophy.

What are lesions?

In MS, the fatty, protective covering that surrounds nerves, called myelin, becomes damaged due to inflammation in the central nervous system. The result of this inflammatory damage is demyelination. Lesions are the hardened areas (scars) or plaques where myelin has been damaged. Multiple sclerosis literally means "many scars."

Where inflammation damages the blood-brain barrier, lesions can develop. This inflammation and active lesions appear on MRI scans as white spots when gadolinium, a contrast agent, is injected into a vein beforehand. Lesions can also affect the spinal cord or optic nerves.

What are black holes?

When so much of the protective myelin has been damaged that nerves die, the resulting lesions appear as dark spots on MRI scan. These dark spots are often referred to as “black holes.” Although the body can work hard to repair myelin, once the nerves have died they do not grow back. The damage is permanent.

Read this post in its entirety:
Brain Atrophy, Pseudoatrophy, and Multiple Sclerosis