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Multiple sclerosis - discharge

MS - discharge

Your doctor has told you that you have multiple sclerosis (MS). This disease affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

At home follow your health care provider's instructions on self-care. Use the information below as a reminder.

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What to Expect at Home

Symptoms vary from person to person. With time, each person may have different symptoms. For some people, symptoms last days to months, then lessen or go away. For others, symptoms don't improve or only very little.

Over time, symptoms may get worse (progression), and it becomes harder to take care of yourself. Some people have very little progression. Others have more severe and rapid progression.

Activity

Try to stay as active as you can. Ask your provider what kind of activity and exercise are right for you. Try walking or jogging. Stationary bicycle riding is also good exercise.

Benefits of exercise include:

If you have problems with spasticity, learn about what makes it worse. You or your caregiver can learn exercises to keep muscles loose.

Keep from Getting Overheated

Increased body temperature can make your symptoms worse. Here are some tips to prevent overheating:

Home Safety

Make sure your home is safe. Find out what you can do to prevent falls and keep your bathroom safe to use.

If you are having trouble moving around in your house easily, talk with your provider about getting help.

Your provider can refer you to a physical therapist to help with:

Bladder Care

You may have problems starting to urinate or emptying your bladder all the way. Your bladder may empty too often or at the wrong time. Your bladder may become too full and you may leak urine.

To help with bladder problems, your provider may prescribe medicine. Some people with MS need to use a urinary catheter. This is a thin tube that is inserted into your bladder to drain urine.

Your provider may also teach you some exercises to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Urinary infections are common in people with MS. Learn to recognize the symptoms, such as burning when you urinate, fever, low back pain on one side, and a more frequent need to urinate.

Do not hold your urine. When you feel the urge to urinate, go to the bathroom. When you are not at home, take note of where the nearest bathroom is.

Bowel Care

If you have MS, you may have trouble controlling your bowels. Have a routine. Once you find a bowel routine that works, stick with it:

Avoid constipation:

Ask your provider about medicines you're taking that may cause constipation. These include some medicines for depression, pain, bladder control, and muscle spasms.

Skin Care

If you are in a wheelchair or bed most of the day, you need to check your skin every day for signs of pressure sores. Look closely at:

Learn how to prevent pressure sores.

Staying Healthy

Keep up to date with your vaccinations. Get a flu shot every year. Ask your provider if you need a pneumonia shot.

Ask your provider about other checkups you may need, such as to test your cholesterol level, blood sugar level, and a bone scan for osteoporosis.

Eat healthy foods and keep from becoming overweight.

Other Care

Learn to manage stress. Many people with MS feel sad or depressed at times. Talk to friends or family about this. Ask your provider about seeing a professional to help you with these feelings.

You may find yourself getting tired more easily than before. Pace yourself when you do activities that may be tiring or need a lot of concentration.

Your provider may have you on different medicines to treat your MS and many of the problems that may come with it:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you have:

Related Information

Multiple sclerosis
Optic neuritis
Neurogenic bladder
Urinary incontinence
Constipation - self-care
Daily bowel care program
Preventing pressure ulcers
Bathroom safety for adults
Communicating with someone with dysarthria
Preventing falls
Caring for muscle spasticity or spasms
Swallowing problems
When you have urinary incontinence
Kegel exercises - self-care
Urine drainage bags
Self catheterization - male
Self catheterization - female
Suprapubic catheter care
Gastrostomy feeding tube - bolus
Jejunostomy feeding tube
Constipation - what to ask your doctor
Pressure ulcers - what to ask your doctor
Preventing falls - what to ask your doctor

References

Calabresi PA. Multiple sclerosis and demyelinating conditions of the central nervous system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 383.

Fabian MT, Krieger SC, Lublin FD. Multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 80.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Living well with MS. www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS. Accessed November 5, 2020.

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Review Date: 8/2/2020  

Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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