5. Track symptoms to improve conversations with your doctor.
MS symptoms can change daily, so keeping track of your symptoms can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor about how well your treatments are, or aren’t, working. Your tracker can also include information like how much sleep you got that night, your energy levels, whether or not you exercised, if you took any other medications, and even the weather that day, all of which can help you and your doctor identify patterns. You may even include how long the symptom lasted, and whether you’ve experienced it in the past or not. Using an app, notes on your phone, or a physical notebook can make tracking symptoms easy.
6. Understand complementary treatment options.
Complementary treatments are non-pharmaceutical approaches to care, such as supplements, exercise regimens, and diet, that are used in addition to medication. When these are used instead of medication, they’re called alternative treatments.
More research is needed to further understand the potential effectiveness of complementary treatments. Exercise in particular can help many MS symptoms, including reducing fatigue, improving bladder and bowel function, and improving mood. A physical therapist can help you find exercises that work best for your symptoms and mobility.
Remember to discuss any complementary options to your treatment plan with your doctor before getting started. Supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and may interact with your medication regimen. Don’t start taking them until you’ve talked about the specific ones you’re interested in with a medical professional.
7. There’s an MS community you can connect with.
Whether you’re looking for a support group in person or online, connecting with the larger MS community can help you feel less alone, and keep you updated on the latest treatment options. It’s also a great way to get advice on living well with MS. The following organizations and websites share resources and ways to get involved:
MSWorld: This is an all-volunteer, patient-run organization that connects people living with MS through chat rooms, message boards, and other patient resources.
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA): In addition to educational resources for patients, MSAA also offers assistance programs for receiving MS support items.
National MS Society: This large nonprofit organization funds research ($1.06 billion to-date) and education programs. Walk MS and Bike MS are popular fundraising programs that host events around the country if you’re interested in getting involved.
MS Focus: The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation: MS Focus is committed to providing educational resources and ways to help those with MS educate others about their condition through the MS Focus Ambassador program.