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 62 ounces per day, about 8 glasses. 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 medicines, and many other options.
Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if new symptoms develop.
Fish oil. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated April 2009. Accessed August 31, 2012.
Motl RW, Pillutti LA. The benefits of exercise training in multiple sclerosis. Nat Rev Neurol. 2012;July 24.
Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated August 10, 2012. Accessed August 30, 2012.
Multiple sclerosis. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/multiple_sclerosis.htm . Accessed August 31, 2012.
About MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/index.aspx . Accessed August 31, 2012.
Seven sizzling ways to stop smoking. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated August 2009. Accessed August 31, 2012.
11/9/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : 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 2014 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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