What is it Like to Live with Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack myelin, or protective sheaths covering nerves. This can cause symptoms such as impaired or blurry vision, fatigue, numbness or tingling in the limbs, muscular coordination problems, and issues with bowel and bladder function. Receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is scary, but it doesn’t mean your life is over. Using a four-prong strategy of diet, exercise, mental health and medical treatment, your life can still be everything you want it to be. Here are some of the helpful strategies for patients living with multiple sclerosis.
Best Foods to Eat for Multiple Sclerosis
It’s important to take steps to make your diet healthy. Try to drink at least 8 cups of water and get 30 grams of fiber daily. Good dietary practices also include sticking with lean proteins and eating lots of fruits and veggies.
Some research suggests that adopting a diet low in saturated fat can go a long way toward helping slow down or even avoid disease progression. The Swank Diet in particular, developed by Dr. Roy Swank, bans gluten, legumes (like beans and peas) and almost all saturated fats while emphasizing consumption of fish and supplementation with fish oils. Gluten in particular has also been linked to particular symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and people with the condition are more likely to develop a gluten intolerance.
Most doctors do advise limiting saturated fat, sticking to lean proteins like skinless turkey or chicken, and eating a diet high in fruits and veggies. However, it is still crucial to speak to your healthcare provider before making any significant dietary changes.
How to Exercise with Multiple Sclerosis
With symptoms ranging from fatigue and weakness to pain and lack of coordination, exercise may seem like something to avoid for someone living with multiple sclerosis. But, exercise can in fact improve certain symptoms and help people with the condition stay active. Some studies have shown that MS patients who regularly do aerobic exercise benefit from increased strength and endurance and improved mental health. Improvements of other symptoms such as bladder and bowel control as well as spasticity were also reported.
What types of exercise are best for people living with MS? Anything you like! Activities like running, playing sports, swimming, and yoga are all great ways to keep active with multiple sclerosis. The key is to remember to pay attention to how your body responds to particular activities and adapt accordingly. If you are experiencing a symptom flare-up make sure to be extra careful to not exacerbate symptoms and consider lightening up your exercise regimen until your symptoms subside.
Lastly, work with your doctor to create a plan that lets you participate in the activities you can enjoy. He or she can give you guidelines to follow as well as help time your medication to help manage symptoms in relation to your activities.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis
It’s extremely important to know that MS does affect parts of the brain that control mood. While it is normal and natural to experience sadness or grief in reaction to your diagnosis or frustrations as you manage the disease, you should know that depression, anxiety and extreme irritability are not just who you are now. They are symptoms of MS, and they can be treated.
Here are some strategies for coping with MS-related mood changes:
- Speak with your trusted friends and family members. Your friends and family know you best, and they can help you discern an understandable reaction (sadness or frustration at symptoms) from what may be a symptom (loss of enjoyment of activities, lashing out at people for no reason, persistent anxiety, etc.).
- Talk to your doctor. If you’re concerned about a mood-related symptom, tell your doctor. Keep track of incidents (with the help of friends and family), and discuss your options. Counseling, medication and exercise have been proven effective at helping people with MS cope with mood-related symptoms.
- Find a support group. It’s so important to know you’re not alone in your struggles. There are lots of people out there who are going through the same things you are — and plenty more who have overcome those struggles. Finding a support group allows you to connect with your peers, share stories, and find strategies. The National MS Society is a great resource for both MS management strategies as well as finding an MS support group in your area or online.
IV Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis at IVX Health
At IVX Health we guarantee private patient suites with comfortable leather recliners for multiple sclerosis patients receiving biologic infusions such as Ocrevus, Lemtrada, and Tysabri. We offer flexible scheduling with evening and weekend availability as well as a 1:3 nurse to patient ratio, so you receive personalized care tailored to your needs at every visit. To experience how we are redefining the care experience, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our many convenient locations.