When you are new to Multiple Sclerosis or MS, you might not know what to expect during the course of the disease. There are times after a period of remission, in which you don't feel any pain in your limbs, you might get a flare-up. Flare-ups are caused by inflammation in your nervous system. This can damage your nerve cells and prevent signals from being carried to various parts of your body. How are your flare-ups treated? Here is what to expect for those new to the illness.
One of the things you can do to treat flare-ups is to prevent them from happening at all. There are a few things you can do to try to ensure you don't get any flare-ups. You must make sure you take your medications regularly. These drugs can help prevent your symptoms from getting worse and can prevent relapses. You can also try to prevent yourself from getting sick with a cold or flu. Make sure you wash your hands and get your yearly flu shot. You can also stop smoking or try not to be around those who do.
One of the first things you can do if you suffer a flare-up is to get some rest. In some patients, flare-ups or relapses are caused by stress or over exertion of energy. If you feel you have been overdoing things at work or you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, you certainly can trigger a relapse. Take some time to rest, get more sleep and pamper yourself until your symptoms start to ease. Rest will only help if your symptoms are not too bad and in the early stages of relapse.
One treatment your doctor will most likely give you if you do have a flare-up or relapse is to give you steroid treatments. Steroids will bring down the inflammation and help make your symptoms go away faster and not be as severe in many cases. Steroids might have some side effects such as weight gain, upset stomach, mood changes and possible sleep problems.
Steroids are injected into the muscle of the limbs that are having trouble like numbness or pain. The doctor can also inject the steroid just under the skin in some cases.
If your flare-up is more severe, simple rest and steroid injections might not cut it. In this case, you might have to undergo a plasma exchange. The doctor or nurse will first take some of your blood and plasma is extracted from it. The plasma is then exchanged with donor plasma or a substitute plasma liquid and then returned into your body. This will remove many of the damaged cells that are causing the flare-up and can help you to feel stronger and more like yourself.
Contact a doctor, like Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D., for more help.