Changes to your lifestyle can help you manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups or worsening of symptoms. Your coping skills and attitude toward your illness are important factors in successfully managing the disease. Habits to consider include:
Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Regular exercise can help with muscle strength, balance, endurance, and fatigue. Swimming is especially beneficial. The water helps keep your body cool during exercise.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, are sometimes recommended for people with MS. It is not clear if omega-3s are helpful for this condition.
It is also important that you drink plenty of water. Aim for about 8 glasses per day. Avoid drinks that cause dehydration, like caffeinated beverages.
Many people with MS notice that stress makes symptoms worse. Consider getting regular massages and participating in other stress reducing practices, such as meditation, yoga, and relaxation. You may also find it helpful to join a support group. These groups can provide emotional support for you and your family.
Heat worsens MS symptoms in many people. The heat may be external or internal. Tips to avoid heat include:
Smoking may worsen MS symptoms. It can make MS progress to a more severe form. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about your options for quitting. There are smoking cessation classes, online self-help programs, nicotine replacement products, prescription medications, and many other options.
Fish oil. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated July 16, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.
Motl RW, Pillutti LA. The benefits of exercise training in multiple sclerosis. Nat Rev Neurol. 2012;8(9):487-497.
Multiple sclerosis (MS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS. Updated March 4, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2016.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/multiple_sclerosis.htm. Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.
Wallack EM, Wiseman HD, Ploughman M. Healthy aging from the perspectives of 638 older people with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Int. 2016;2016:1845720.
What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed September 13, 2016.
11/9/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Healy B, Ali E, Guttmann C, et al. Smoking and disease progression in multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurol. 2009;66(7):858-864.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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