Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Should You See A Specialist For Your MS?

Previous generations of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis didn’t have many treatment options. The phrase ‘diagnose and adios’ became popular in the MS community for a reason. If new neurologic events occurred, neurologists could offer steroids for relapses but that was about it. Some patients were told not to exercise or have children for fears of making the disease worse, presumptions we now know are incorrect.

In the care of MS, we’ve come a long way. It is now generally accepted that MS is a chronic but treatable disease that requires long-term care from a neurologist. Due to improved diagnostic criteria, better understanding of the disease mechanisms, and multiple disease-modifying therapies, the treatment landscape for MS has become rich and complicated.

Effective disease management that improves health outcomes is vital to maximizing quality of life for MS patients worldwide. As such, it is important for patients to be able to access specialist care from healthcare professionals who have experience and training in addressing the specific needs of MS patients and their caregivers.

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Should You See An MS Specialist?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What factors do people with MS say help them as they get older?

The more we learn about healthy aging, the better equipped we will be to focus on important aspects of life now that can make a difference in our quality of life later. The number of people with MS who are older adults is increasing. That’s probably due to improved longevity and more effective treatments. But that means it’s more important to learn from their experiences and discover what they think helps them to live well and stay more independent.

Researchers in Canada—where MS is more prevalent—wanted to know what factors older people living with MS thought are most significant in contributing to healthy aging. So they asked 683 adults living with MS (78 percent female) who were older than 55 years (average age 64) and living with MS symptoms for more than 20 years. The majority of the participants in the study lived in their own home (96 percent) with a spouse or partner (71 percent) and required some assistance for activities of daily living.

At the end of the survey, participants were asked: “From your point of view, what are the most important things that help you live long and healthy with MS?”

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Healthy Aging With Multiple Sclerosis

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Flu Vaccine and MS

Protecting yourself from illness is important, especially when you live with multiple sclerosis.

Being ill when you have MS can mess with your body. When you have an infection, fever, or become overheated, it can cause a temporary pseudo-exacerbation. Until your body temperature returns to normal or the infection is resolved, MS symptoms can wreak havoc with your ability to function, much in the same way a relapse would.

One way to protect yourself from getting sick this winter is to get the annual flu vaccine. It contains inactivated (killed) influenza viruses that are specifically chosen each season to protect against three or four of the most highly anticipated flu viruses. Once you get a flu shot, it takes about two weeks for the body to develop antibodies to be able to fight the viruses.

The flu vaccine can also come in a nasal spray form, the flu mist, which contains live attenuated viruses. People with MS, people who are immunosuppressed, children with asthma, and pregnant women are some of those who should NOT receive the nasal vaccine. Further, for the 2016-2017 season, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends that no one use the flu mist due to concerns with its effectiveness.

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Annual Flu Vaccine, MS, and MS Medications

Friday, September 16, 2016

Multiple Sclerosis and Sleep Problems

People living with multiple sclerosis are at increased risk of sleep disturbances, which can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. The most common sleep problems associated with MS include insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and restless legs syndrome (RLS). Other sleep problems may include periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and narcolepsy.

Fatigue vs. sleepiness

Fatigue and sleepiness are similar, but may have different causes. If you start the day energized, but lose physical or mental energy over time, it’s probably MS-related fatigue. If symptoms are worse during sedentary, monotonous activities, rather than during extended physical or cognitive activity, the excessive sleepiness (hypersomnolence) is more likely caused by sleep disturbances and needs to be assessed with an overnight sleep study.


Insomnia occurs when you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It can contribute to symptoms of fatigue, impaired concentration or memory, mood disturbances, excessive daytime sleepiness, behavioral problems, reduced motivation or energy, impaired social, family, academic, or occupational performance, proneness to errors, and concerns or dissatisfaction with sleep.

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The Many Ways MS Can Mess With Your Sleep

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Adaptive Yoga For MS

Many people with multiple sclerosis take advantage of complementary and alternative medicine. Mind-body techniques are especially popular, particularly yoga. But some people with MS may worry that they cannot keep up with a regular yoga class due to MS limitations.

The beauty of yoga lies in its adaptability to fit each person’s needs. You do not need to be able to twist yourself into a pretzel or stand on one foot, eyes closed, and reach to the stars. You just need to “start where you are.” Yoga is not the goal; it is a process that helps to integrate mind, body, and spirit.

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Benefits of Adaptive Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Diet Similar To Fasting Might Help MS

What we eat can make a huge difference in how we feel; what we don’t eat can also have an impact. Although there is no one multiple sclerosis (MS) diet, there are several different approaches to eating that might make a difference with the disease.

Researching how diet affects health is not an easy task and often starts with studies involving animals. Researchers will often use a mouse model of MS called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) to test how different interventions affect the immune system or disease symptoms. In the MS community, we often joke that it is the mice that get all the cures. Translating their cures into human treatments has been a huge challenge.

Researchers at the University of Southern California investigating the role of diet interventions in MS found that a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) promotes neuro-regeneration, reduces autoimmunity, and reduces symptoms in a mouse model of MS. They found that the FMD reduced the severity of clinical symptoms in all study mice and completely reversed symptoms in 20 percent of the animals. The improvements seen with FMD were associated with reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, increased corticosterone levels, and increased production of oligodendrocyte cells that encouraged remyelination (Choi et al, 2016).

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Diet That Mimics Fasting May Reduce MS Symptoms

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How to Improve Walking With MS

One of the most visible consequences of multiple sclerosis is an impaired ability to walk. At some point during the course of the disease, the majority of people with MS (up to 87 percent) experience walking limitations. That shocking figure comes from a 2008 survey of more than 2,000 people living with MS commissioned by Acorda Therapeutics and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

Walking difficulties can be affected by muscle weakness (in legs and trunk), spasticity, loss of coordination, balance problems, sensory deficits, pain, visual loss, cognitive deficits, and fatigue. The resultant abnormal gait patterns and decreased mobility can lead to comorbidities such as osteoporosis, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular and respiratory deconditioning, and increased risk of falls.

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Six Ways To Improve Walking Speed and Performance