Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that causes the immune system to slowly eat away at the protective covering (myelin) of your nerves. Damage to the myelin leads to problems with communication between your brain and the rest of your body, which can result in many different symptoms, depending on which nerves are affected and how much damage has been done.
Ultimately, the nerves will completely deteriorate, and there is currently nothing that can stop this process from happening. Therefore, treatment for multiple sclerosis focuses mainly on recovering from attacks, managing symptoms, and slowing the progression of the disease as much as possible. There are many medications that are designed to slow the progression of the disease, as well as other lifestyle changes you can make to help relieve signs and symptoms of MS.
Though there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, there are several medications that work to modify the natural progression of the disease for certain types of MS. Though no therapies have proven beneficial for primary-progressive MS, there are certain medications that are having a positive effect on relapsing-remitting MS by lowering the relapse rate and reducing the formations of new lesions. These medications work best the earlier they are prescribed in the course of the disease. Some of the most common medications used for this purpose include:
- Copaxone (glatiramer acetate): This medication is injected into your skin, and it works to stop your immune system’s attack on myelin.
- Tysabri (natalizumab): This medication is generally only used for the most severe cases of MS and is given as a last resort if you have not responded to other avenues of treatment. This is because this medication increases the risk of viral infections in the brain. It works to block the movement of potentially damaging immune cells from your bloodstream to your spinal cord and brain.
- Beta interferons: This type of medication is also injected under your skin or into a muscle. Beta interferons work to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses, but they can also cause complications such as flu-like symptoms and reactions at the site of the injection.
- Novantrone (mitoxantrone): This is a drug that works to suppress your immune system, but it can also cause complications with your heart and can lead to blood cancer in some cases. For this reason, this medication is usually only used for advanced or severe cases of MS.
- Aubagio (teriflunomide): This medication is taken once daily and has been shown to reduce the rate of relapse for most patients. However, it also can cause side effects such as liver damage and hair loss.
- Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate): This medication is usually taken twice and day and is also shown to reduce the rate of relapse. It also lowers your white blood cell count and can cause diarrhea, nausea, and flushing.
- Gilenya (fingolimod): This is an oral medication that works to reduce the relapse rate. This medication will also require you to have your heart monitored because it can cause high blood pressure and blurred vision.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
There are also some other things you can do to manage your condition on your own. These include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Reducing stress
- Keeping your body temperature low
- Getting enough rest