A multiple sclerosis diagnosis will change your life, and you likely won’t be sure what to think. Numerous questions will come up, like, “Will my life be shorter?” “Can I still live a normal life?” “What changes will be necessary?”
All these and more are questions you will want to ask your primary care physician at Healthy Life Family Medicine in Goodyear, Arizona. Dr. John Monroe and his talented team can serve as important care partners in your journey with multiple sclerosis, especially in the initial adjustment period after receiving a diagnosis.
Here, we share some important basic information about the condition and some recommendations for keeping your symptoms at bay to live a fuller, richer life.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing damage to the myelin sheath covering them. When this sheath is damaged, it cannot transmit electrical signals normally, and this disrupts how well the brain communicates with the rest of the body. MS is typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.
In most cases, patients are diagnosed with what is known as remitting MS, meaning that symptoms can come and go, usually in periods. For a while, you may experience symptoms; then they may go away, only to return at a later time.
As you may imagine, because of the complexity of the body’s nervous system, symptoms can vary widely according to which nerves are attacked. Patients of MS may experience partial or total loss of vision, pain, numbness, tingling, problems with balance, problems with motor skills, and more.
Living with multiple sclerosis
There is no cure for MS, and it rarely causes fatalities. Living well with MS is possible, especially with a competent medical team to provide guidance and assistance. Dr. Monroe or your specialist may prescribe medications to slow the progression of the disease and reduce the effects of symptoms when they occur.
He will also likely recommend some lifestyle changes that can help reduce the effects and even the frequency of some symptoms. These can include:
- Eating a healthy diet that is high in fiber and low in fat. This is especially helpful in MS patients who have bowel and/or bladder problems.
- Regular exercise is good for both mental and physical health. Focus on low-impact activities that help with mobility and flexibility.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Smoking has been proven to make MS progress quickly, and alcohol can interact with many medications you may need for managing symptoms.
- Continue activities that are mentally and socially stimulating to help preserve your cognitive function.
- Physical therapy is great for combating muscle weakness and problems with walking and gait.
- Occupational therapy can keep you adept at many skills necessary for daily tasks of living.
- A mental health professional may also recommend some therapy to help you deal with the emotions of MS and the life changes it can bring.
If you think you may have multiple sclerosis, or if you have been diagnosed with MS and need treatment, contact us at Healthy Life Family Medicine on North Estrella Parkway in Goodyear, AZ. Our compassionate medical team can help you with your initial diagnosis, finding a specialist in the area, managing your symptoms, and more.