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Newly diagnosed with MS – what you need to know

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) can be overwhelming, but knowing what to expect and how to manage the condition can help you live a fulfilling life. MS presents itself differently for everyone. Here are some essential things every person newly diagnosed with MS should know:

1. Understanding MS

MS is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). It causes inflammation and damage to the protective myelin sheath around nerve fibres, leading to various symptoms.

2. Symptoms can vary

MS symptoms can range from numbness, tingling, weakness, vision problems, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and bladder/bowel issues. The severity and combination of symptoms can differ from person to person.

3. Types of MS

The most common forms are relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), where symptoms flare up and then partially or completely subside and primary progressive MS (PPMS), where symptoms gradually worsen without remissions.

4. Treatment options

While there is no cure for MS, several disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) can help slow the progression of the disease and manage relapses in RRMS. These medications can be taken orally, injected, or given intravenously.

5. Importance of early treatment

Starting treatment early can help prevent or delay disability progression and potential future relapses. Discuss treatment options with your neurologist and weigh the risks and benefits.

6. Lifestyle modifications

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise (as tolerated), stress management, and avoiding smoking, can help manage symptoms and potentially slow disease progression.

7. Support system

Building a strong support system, including family, friends, and healthcare professionals, can provide emotional and practical assistance in coping with the challenges of MS.

8. Self-advocacy

Learn about your condition, ask questions, and actively participate in your healthcare decisions. Consider joining an MS Therapy Centre, to connect with others and access resources.

9. Monitoring and managing symptoms

Regularly communicate with your healthcare team about any new or worsening symptoms, as they may need to adjust your treatment plan or provide additional support.

10. Staying positive

While MS can be challenging, maintaining a positive attitude, setting realistic goals, and focusing on what you can control can help you manage the condition and live a fulfilling life.

Remember, every person’s experience with MS is unique and it’s essential to work closely with your healthcare team to develop a personalised management plan that addresses your specific needs and concerns.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​