7 Tips for a Healthier Multiple Sclerosis Life

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1. Diet and Nutrition

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While treatments prescribed by doctors are determined to manage a chronic disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS), there are other factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. Diet and nutrition are among them. There is no special diet designed just for patients with MS, but food can impact energy levels, overall healthfulness, and bladder and bowel function. So, maintaining a healthy, balanced, and planned diet is important. Specialists recommend a low-fat and high-fiber diet. There is also evidence that diets low in saturated fats and supplemented by omega-3 and omega-6 can benefit MS patients. Some people may also be advised to take supplements such as vitamin D or vitamin B.

Learn more about the at-home study of bacteria’s benefits on bladder health in MS patients. 

2. Exercise

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It may be difficult for MS patients to exercise, but purposeful movement is helpful for disease management. Aerobic exercise has been proven to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, bladder and bowel function, fatigue and depression, positive attitude, and participation in social activities. It is important for people with MS to consult with their physician about the most appropriate type of exercise for their individual ability and capacity. Each period of exercise should be timed to prevent excessive fatigue. Among the many activities MS patients should try are: gardening, household chores, cooking, yoga, adaptive tai chi, and aquatic exercises.

Learn more about how yoga and aquatic exercise are seen to markedly ease some MS-related symptoms.

3. Smoking

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“The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General has established that smoking causes serious health problems; subsequent studies by many other groups have confirmed this,” according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “Smokers are generally recognized to have higher rates of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other respiratory problems, and lower birth weight infants than nonsmokers. Smoking is known to produce shortness of breath, susceptibility to lung infections, and heartbeat irregularities, which might transform a mild or moderate neurological limitation in a person with MS into a severe disability. Furthermore, smoking presents a significant fire hazard when the smoker suffers from weakness or incoordination.”

4. Alcohol

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Like smoking, alcohol is also discouraged for patients with multiple sclerosis. When consumed in high amounts, alcohol causes many effects on the central nervous system and other body organs. In patients with MS, the effect is exaggerated. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and it may be additive. This doesn’t mean that MS patients cannot drink alcohol at all, but they should consult with their doctor for the appropriate amount and frequency to drink.

More than 500,000 Americans suffer from spasticity; when it occurs in the upper arm, it can cause muscle stiffness, spasms, flexing, and twitching.

5. Heat and Temperature

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Temperature can influence how an MS patient feels. The symptoms of the disease may get worse when the weather is very hot or humid. “Activities including sunbathing, getting overheated from exercise, or taking very hot showers or baths can have the same effect. For example, some people notice that their vision becomes blurred when they get overheated — a phenomenon known as Uhthoff’s sign. These temporary changes can result from even a very slight elevation in core body temperature,” says the National MS Society.

The organization cautions: “Some people with MS notice that symptoms, particularly spasticity, become worse in cold weather. It is generally recommended that people with MS who are sensitive to temperature try to avoid extremes of either hot or cold. Anyone considering a move to a ‘better’ climate should visit first to see if the climate change is, indeed, beneficial.”

Watch a National MS Society video featuring a discussion with Dr. Stephen Krieger who talks about less common symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

6. Traveling

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Multiple sclerosis does not go away — not even during the holidays. Therefore, patients need to make some arrangements when traveling to avoid potential complications. Patients can access traveling tips from organizations or ask their doctor. Tips include packing all medications needed and might be required in the case of exacerbation; seeking a specialized physician at the location; or checking the weather ahead of travel. It might seem scary, but MS should not keep people from traveling. Research and planning for travel are key, according to the MS society.

7. Emotional Wellness

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Sometimes, even when the body is feeling OK, there seems to be a problem that you just can’t put your finger on. Emotional well-being is as important as taking care of your body. “MS can have a significant impact on a person’s emotions, not only because MS is unpredictable and challenging to live with, but because it affects parts of the brain that control mood,” says the National MS Society. “It is essential to recognize and address changes because state of mind, emotion, and mood impact how one feels physically and functions in everyday life. They are essential components of overall wellness, affect one’s ability to care for oneself, adapt to change and problem-solve effectively, can negatively impact cognitive function (particularly depression), and are difficult for others to understand and live with, potentially causing disruptions in communication and relationships.

But can emotional health influence MS treatment outcomes?

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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