26 Tips to Help Manage Common MS Symptoms
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex and diverse condition which can result in several different symptoms, that may or not may be the same among patients. While not everyone may experience the same MS symptoms, the most common ones can be difficult to address and cope with.
To help you manage the 10 most common MS symptoms, we’ve put together tips that can help ease your day-to-day life with multiple sclerosis, based on this Above MS article.
Fatigue is one of the most common–and transversal–symptom of MS. While fatigue may not be difficult to address, it’s most certainly something that can cause a lot of discomfort and be quite inconvenient. Therefore, there are several things you can do to minimize you tiredness and get through the day:
• One of the simplest things you can to is figure out what time of day you have the most energy, and save any tasks or activities that require more from you for that time.
• Whenever you have something big to do, consider dividing it into several parts, turning one task in several small ones. For example, if you’re planning on organizing your whole closet, start with the pants.
• Some people benefit a lot from taking small, power naps; they can be a great way to recharge your energy and help you get through the rest of the day.
• Stay away from energy drinks. Even though they promise to give you the boost you need to fight fatigue back, these are not the best solution. They do give you a boost, but they just provide a sugar rush that does not help you save energy. Also avoid fast food and processed food; if you do eat it, do it in moderation.
2. Numbness or tingling
It’s quite normal to experience some numbness and tingles in the body. Whenever you’re feeling that your fingers are numb or tingling, you may want to try cooling them down by putting them in some ice, cold water or just something you might have around you that is cool enough to ease up that uncomfortable symptom.
3. Sight problems
Having sight and vision problems is also on the list when it comes to MS symptoms. If you experience these, there are some things you can do:
• Try talking to your physician and see if he/she can prescribe some medication that could help you with your vision issues.
• If you’re an avid reader or just like to spend time online, limit your time with books and on your computer, and try not to wear out your eyes.
• Don’t forget that, just like any other part of your body, your eyes need to get some rest every once in a while, so give them a break.
4. Muscle pain
Along with fatigue, it’s quite normal for MS patients to experience sore muscles and pain in their joints. To help you fight those uncomfortable achy moments, try these:
• A physical therapist can help, working with your body, and giving you tips on how to fight the pain, as well as recommend simple, easy physical exercises that fit your needs.
• You can also make an appointment with your physician and ask him/her to recommend over-the-counter pain medications that may help.
5. Balance and coordination issues
Because MS can interfere with brain function, you may experience several mobility issues, including problems with balance and coordination. If so, keep these in mind:
• A physical therapist can provide simple exercises that may help improve balance and coordination.
• If possible–and if necessary–find some adaptive equipment like a cane or crutches that may help you get around more easily.
6. Mood changes
If you experience mood changes, you can talk to your doctor to see if he/she can prescribe any medication to help with feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, and other changes in mood. It’s also quite normal that MS patients may find themselves falling into depression and this can be fought with the help of certain medications.
You can also speak with a psychologist about your mood changes. Think of therapy as a helpful tool for addressing these feelings.
7. Memory loss and/or focus problems
Being a neurological condition, multiple sclerosis affects your brain, which may lead to memory loss and concentration issues. Here’s what you can do to help:
• There is a technique called cognitive rehabilitation. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist, such as an occupational therapist or neuropsychologist, who can explain more.
• Fitness has been associated with positive results on cognitive tests for MS patients. Adding an exercise routine may help with memory and focus.
• Certain tools can help you work around memory problems. For instance, keep a calendar, write notes, make lists, and use a smartphone for alerts/reminders.
8. Sexual issues
This is a sensitive topic, but the truth is that MS can lead to sexual issues, in both men and women. Whenever you don’t feel in the mood and don’t know what to do about it, here are some tips:
• With men, there are certain options available if they are unable to get and maintain an erection. It’s very important that you go to your doctor and ask for guidance.
• For women, problems may come up if they start experiencing vaginal dryness. There are many over-the-counter medications you can try. Speak to your physician so he/she can recommend a proper treatment solution.
9. Bowel and bladder control issues
Your bladder is another part of your body that you may start having issues with. Urinary incontinence is pretty common among MS patients, and here’s what you can do about it:
• Consider limiting caffeine and alcohol, which can be bladder irritants. However, cutting back on your fluids can cause further complications. Try strategically planning your fluid intake based on your schedule. For example, drink more during the times of day when you are home or close to a bathroom.
• Try to urinate every two hours to help train your bladder and avoid drinking too much after dinner to limit trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
• Aim to drink enough water to keep your urine light yellow.
10. Heat sensitivity
Temperature is something that can affect the well-being of an MS patient. You’r either too cold or too hot, and sometimes you can’t find something in-between and you just don’t feel comfortable. Here’s what you can do:
• Stay in an air-conditioned environment during periods of extreme heat and humidity
• Drinking cold fluids may provide temporary relief
• Use cooling products such as vests, neck wraps, and bandanas during exercise or outdoor activity