MS Management: 4 Things to Know About Relapses

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1. What are MS Relapses?

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Relapses, attacks or flare-ups are exacerbations of multiple sclerosis (MS) that cause the development of new symptoms or the worsening of old symptoms. Depending on many factors, MS relapses can be mild or severe and some patients may even feel incapable of continuing with their normal activities at home or work. The term is used when the attack lasts at least 24 hours, but it can take from a few days to weeks or months, and it must be separated from the previous attack by at least 30 days. Relapses are always different from each other, having different symptoms each time and in each patient.

“For example, the exacerbation might be an episode of optic neuritis (caused by inflammation of the optic nerve that impairs vision), or problems with balance or severe fatigue,” explain the National Multiple Sclerosis Society about the topic. “Some relapses produce only one symptom (related to inflammation in a single area of the central nervous system) while other relapses cause two or more symptoms at the same time (related to inflammation in more than one area of the central nervous system).”

Dr. Fred Lublin, a renowned multiple sclerosis (MS), helped launch the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) 2016 Annual Meeting, with the John F. Kurtzke Memorial Lecture he titled “Do Relapses Really Matter?”

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