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Multiple Sclerosis

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What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease which effects the central nervous
system. For reasons unknown to allopathic medicine, the body's immune system,
which is designed to attack invading viruses and bacteria, starts attacking the
lining around the nerve fibers.

This protective coating, called myelin, is damaged, or destroyed, leaving scar
tissue or 'sclerosis' behind. Myelin is made up of primarily fatty tissue and
it's purpose is to protect and insulate nerve fibers. Myelin helps keep the
nerve signals intact and ensures they get where they are supposed to go, much
like the insulating coating around electrical wires. Without functional myelin
the nerve fibers can not carry electrical impulses through the body properly.

The result of this damage can range from mild tremors to total paralysis, and
everything in between, depending on the extent and location of the damage.

There are four major types of Multiple Sclerosis.

Relapsing, Remitting MS is the type most people are initially diagnosed with.
This type of MS occurs in flare-ups and remissions. The patient may be symptom
free for months and then suddenly lose feeling in a limb or have problems
keeping their balance.

Primary Progressive MS worsens slowly and steadily over time The patient does
not have periods of remission or flare -- ups, but the disease continues to
progress slowly.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis starts out as the Relapsing, Remitting
type. Over time the person stops having remissions or flare- ups and the disease
starts to progress at a steady rate.

The most rare type of Multiple Sclerosis is called Progressive-Relapsing. With
this type of MS disease progression is constant and steady, but the person will
experience definite acute flare-ups.

Whichever type of Multiple Sclerosis a person has, there are treatments offered
by both allopathic and alternative medicine to ease symptoms and possibly slow
the progression of the disease.

Who gets Multiple Sclerosis?

Fifty years ago Multiple Sclerosis was virtually unheard of. Today, there are
approximately 2.5 million people worldwide afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis.
According to the National MS Society, 200 people are diagnosed with the disease
every day.

Multiple Sclerosis is most commonly diagnosed in people between 20 and 50 years
of age. However, 5 % of MS patients are under the age of 21, and many people who
are diagnoses later show symptoms as early as 15 or 16 years of age. There are
several cases of children diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Approximately 10%
of all those with MS received there diagnosis after the age of 50. The youngest
person with Multiple Sclerosis was diagnoses at the age of 10 years.

People of any ethnic group can develop Multiple Sclerosis, but it is more
common in those of Northern European decent. MS does develop in Americans of
African, Asian, and Hispanic decent, although it is very rare.

According the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, Canada has the
highest prevalence of MS in the world, with 240 diagnosed cases of MS per every
100,000 people. This is followed by Germany, with 149 cases per 100,000 people.
The United States, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Great Britain and Norway
average 97.5 -- 143.5 documented cases per 100,000 people. India has the lowest
incidence of Multiple Sclerosis in the entire world, with 3 confirmed cases per
100,000 people.

Worldwide, women are 50% more likely to develop Multiple Sclerosis than men.

Multiple Sclerosis is not directly inherited, a parent with MS cannot pass it
on to their children. There have been documented cases of identical twins where
one twin develops Multiple Sclerosis and the other does not. However, it has
been shown that a person is more likely to develop the disease if a close
relative also has it. Medical scientists think there may be a genetic
predisposition to the development of Multiple Sclerosis.

How is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?

For the majority of people, getting that final diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis
is both a relief and a nightmare.

The diagnosis comes as a relief because, oftentimes, the person has experienced
odd, seemingly disconnected symptoms for several years before it finally has a
name. Many are confused and scared by the strange numbness, weakness or other
neurological symptoms, which seem to come and go at random. For many final
diagnosis is reassurance for themselves they are not losing their minds and
proof to their family they are not faking illness.

There is no definitive test for MS. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis is made
only after eliminating all other possibilities and explanations for the
patient's symptoms.

There is, however a uniform criteria which must be met for a diagnosis of
"definite MS." Even if the MRI, lumbar puncture and V.E.P all suggest MS, this
criteria must be met before the final diagnosis can be made.

That requirement is as follows, 'Two different areas of the central nervous
system are affected, and that these effects have been experienced on at least
two separate occasions of at least one month apart and that the person is
within the normal age range for the onset of MS'

At the first visit with your neurologist, he/she will take a complete medical
history and will ask you to describe, in detail, the physical problems. It is
important to tell everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Symptoms
the patient has gotten used to ignoring, such as fleeting pain and restless legs
are important.

The neurologist will then do a full neuro exam. He/she will test reflexes,
check eyes, balance and coordination, as well as check for muscle weakness in
the extremities and changes in the eyes.

After that is completed, most neurologists will order an MRI of the brain and
spine, and a visual evoked potential. Some doctors will order a lumbar puncture
at this time, but others will wait for the MRI to come back.

Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

No one knows what causes Multiple Sclerosis. There is no cure. However, medical
researchers know that Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. Something
causes the body's immune system to go into over drive and attack healthy
tissues in the body. In the case of MS, the myelin around the nerve cells is
attacked.

There are several theories as to what causes the immune system to rev itself
up. Many of these theories are controversial and not supported by standard,
allopathic medicine.

Many people in alternative medicine believe MS is caused by toxins in our food
and environment. Mercury fillings and food additives such as MSG are at the top
of that list. There are people who have had reduction in symptoms by having
fillings removed or changing their diet to eliminate all foods that contain MSG.

Other people think MS is caused by an over growth of bacteria in the body. The
theory is that the body's immune system works too hard to fight off these
bacteria and it starts attacking healthy tissue, as well. There is some
anecdotal evidence that this may be the case in some people.

Some people think MS is caused by being exposed to the EPV virus in childhood.
This is the virus that causes mononucleosis, and Epstein Bar. It is thought the
EPV virus could stay dormant in the system. Those who support this theory say
that the EPV virus replicates itself similar to myelin, and the body's immune
system can not tell the difference.

Still others believe lack of nutrition causes the immune system to malfunction
and attack healthy tissue in the body. These people maintain that over the
centuries the minerals have been leeched out of the soil we use to grow food,
and that genetic engineering of food products has reduced or made vitamins and
minerals biochemically unavailable to our bodies. This group advocates organic,
raw food and whole food supplements.

What ever your theory about the causes of multiple sclerosis, it is important
that both medical researchers and the general population continue to research
the causes of the disease so that we can find a cure or and effective
preventive plan.

What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is like a snowflake. No two cases are the same. Every person
has different symptoms and many times symptoms for one person will even vary
from day to day.

Which symptoms a person shows depends entirely on where in the Central Nervous
System the myelin is damaged, and how severe that damage is.

Vision disturbances are a very common symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Things
like blurred vision, optic neuritis, double vision and involuntary rapid eye
movements are very common, and usually clear up either with or without
treatment. Total vision loss is possible, but very rare.

The most well recognized MS symptoms are those that effect coordination and
movement. Many people have tremors, loss of balance, dizziness or vertigo,
coordination loss and trouble walking due to weakness or numbness of the legs.
Cognitive difficulties such as trouble concentrating, short term memory loss
and difficulty reasoning. Emotions can be effected, also.

In addition, the person with MS may experience tingling or numbness of any part
of their body, a sensation similar to that of limb that has been a sleep,
burning, or a needle like pain, anywhere in the body. Some people experience
facial pain and muscle pain.

Fatigue is the most common symptom among those with MS. MS fatigue is different
than just being tired, the person may feel overwhelmingly tired, limbs may feel
heavy and impossible to move.

Many people experience intermittent stuttering, or slurring of their words. The
normal rhythm of their speech may change as well.

Some people with MS experience urinary urgency, incontinence, and bowel control
problems.

Adults with MS may experience varying levels of sexual dysfunction. Decreased
sensation, diminished arousal, and impotence are common.

People with MS are often extremely sensitive to heat. All other symptoms tend
to worsen when the person becomes overheated. They may become dizzy, or
fatigued much faster in very warm temperatures.

Although the list of MS symptoms is long, it is unusual for one person to
exhibit them all. Medication and various therapies can help the MS patient cope
with troublesome symptoms.

Telling family and friends you have Multiple Sclerosis

The decision to tell your family and friends about to multiple sclerosis, is a
very personal one. The people who need to know most are those that you live
with, because they are the people who will be affected the most. When and how
much to tell your children will depend on the age of the children, and their
level of maturity. You know your children best; trust your judgment about what
they can handle

Your spouse or life partner can help you research and decide upon a course of
treatment. The treatment that you choose will affect your lifestyle and
potentially have the lifestyle of your mate; therefore, it is important to
involve them in making that decision.

It is also suggested that you have your spouse attend doctors appointments,
support groups and read any books or web sites that you use to learn about the
disease. Be sure to share with your spouse when you are having symptoms, what
they are, and how they affect your daily activities.

Depending on the amount of emotional support you may choose to tell or not tell
extended family and friends. If you know that a someone is likely to respond
with pity, anger, or negativity it may be better to put off telling them so as
long as you can. It's important to surround yourself with positive people who
will be supportive and positive as you adjust to your new diagnosis of MS.

When you choose to tell someone about your MS, be sure not to overload them
with information. Share enough so they know what's going on with you, but not
so much that they overloaded. At the same time, you should try to answer all
their questions and give them sources for more information if needed.

Most people will be understanding when you share your diagnosis of MS.

When to tell your employer that you have MS

Deciding when to tell your employer of your MS diagnosis is easily as important
as deciding when to tell your family. Under ADA rules you do not have to
disclose an illness unless it causes a significant challenge in the workplace,
or if you are requesting accommodations such as specific equipment or altered
work times.

However, multiple sclerosis is unpredictable and while you may be fine today,
it is possible for a new symptom to start while you're at work. The best time
to inform your employer of the diagnosis may be when you are symptom-free. Arm
yourself with information about your illness so that you can reassure your
employer and provide needed information.

Explain to your employer the unpredictable nature of multiple sclerosis. If you
have been working with your company for a long time, then you may be able to
reference a past flare-up in the workplace. For example, Do You Remember a Year
Ago when I used a cane because my leg was numb? That was an MS flare-up.
Consider making a plan with your employer to deal with flare-ups in the
workplace.

By using examples you can show your employer that even though you have MS you
will still be a productive member of the work team.

Some employers will allow you to use flex time, or even work from your home
office part of the time it necessary during a flare up. If you have problems
with spasticity in your arms consider using voice recognition software if you
use your computer a lot.

You find yourself these using mobility aids such as a cane or wheelchair at
work you may find that you need to rearrange your workspace. Making room for
these devices will make your job easier and allow you to be more productive.

Many people are concerned that if they tell their employer about their MS
diagnosis they will be discriminated against, were treated differently by their
employer or coworkers. While sometimes as does occur, in the majority of cases
you will find those you work with to be helpful in understanding. If you are
honest and upfront you should have no problem.

Managing relationships with multiple sclerosis

Relationships are hard work. When one partner has MS it adds a whole new set of
challenges.

Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable, making short-term and long-term planning
difficult. You never know when MS will interfere with activities, or plans.

Memory loss associated with multiple sclerosis may leave the healthy partner
feeling that everything falls on them. They may begin to resent the
forgetfulness of their partner.

Having MS fatigue means having to change plans sometimes, it means having
trouble completing tasks you both used to take for granted.

The physical symptoms of MS mean you may not be as active as you once were or
may need assistance with household tasks or self care.

Diminished feeling and slower reaction times may lead to sexual difficulties.
Fatigue and altered self-image can mean the partner with MS doesn't feel as
interested in sex as they once did.

These are the hard facts of multiple sclerosis. But, that does not mean a
person with MS is incapable of sustaining a long term relationship.

Communication is a key factor in any relationship. For those with MS,
communication is crucial to a satisfying relationship for both partners. Talk
your partner about your symptoms, how MS makes you feel, both physically and
emotionally. When either partner is feeling angry or frustrated by the
limitations of the disease, they should be honest with one another. Remember a
person may have multiple sclerosis, but MS is not the person.

Be flexible. There may come a time when the typical division of
responsibilities may need adjusted. Approach each new challenge with an eye to
finding a solution that makes both of you happy.

Deal with sexual issues openly and honestly. Tell your partner what is going on
with you and take the time to reassure them you are not rejecting them. Let them
know they are still attractive in your eyes. Together, look for ways to fulfill
the needs of both partners. Find other ways to stay close.

Take time to celebrate each other, every day and dream together.

Managing MS Fatigue

Fatigue is a very common symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. The type of fatigue
associated with MS is very different than simply being tired and worn out. MS
fatigue muscle deep and affects both the entire body and
brain. Your limbs may feel like way 2000 pounds all of a sudden. It may seem
impossible to keep your eyes open and sometimes even hold your head up. Fatigue
can have suddenly and without warning. You may feel fine an energetic one minute
and completely exhausted the next.

While MS fatigue can't be treated or cured, it can be successfully managed.
Most importantly, be sure to get enough sleep. You may find that you cannot
stay up as late, or keep the same schedule as you did before multiple
sclerosis. Listen to your body and adjust your schedule as necessary. Some
people find it necessary to leave room in their schedules for a nap in the
early afternoon. Many employers are open to this, as it can be considered a
reasonable accommodation under ADA rules. However, to maintain your employer's
trust you must be sure to be back at work at the scheduled time.

Plan your day around those times when you know you will be most tired. If you
know your body falls into exhaustion at 3 pm, don't plan on doing anything
important after 2pm or so.

Proper nutrition plays a big role in managing MS fatigue. If your body isn't
getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals, calories, and water, it can't
perform at its optimal level. It might be helpful to have a nutritional
screening done to see which vitamins and minerals you are deficient in.

Exercise is important, too. When you exercise, even lightly, your body releases
natural endorphins, burns fat, and builds muscle. Endorphins lift your mood and
give you energy to do other things. Again, listen to your body and don't over
do it. Too much of anything is not always a good thing.

MS fatigue can be disabling, but with a little planning and careful attention
you can reduce its effects on your life.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis

For many people hearing the words 'Multiple Sclerosis' feels like being hit by
a truck. Fear and uncertainty take over and you begin to worry about you
future. Even though MS isn't a rare disease, it is far from common. For many in
their 30's or older they associate MS with childhood icon who became completely
disabled from MS.

While total disability does occur, it is not common. MS is not fatal. People
with MS can lead normal lives and enjoy a typical life span.

Living with multiple sclerosis is not always easy, but with planning and
forethought it is possible enjoy life.

Plan physical activates for times of the day when you experience less fatigue.
Pay attention to good nutrition and take positive, proactive steps to reduce
stress.

Daily cardio exercise will help you maintain mobility and keep your heart and
lungs healthy. Strength training will build muscle, giving you more to work
with during a flare up. Strong, healthy muscle will not reduce the effects of a
flare up, but the more muscle you have to start with , the less recovery you
will have to make in order to maintain function.

Daily stretching can help maintain flexibility, reduce spacticity and make
daily activities easier.

Examine your work situation. You may need to reduce your work hours or change
to a less stressful job.

Meditation is often helpful in reducing stress and controlling symptoms such as
pain and dizziness.

If you lose balance often or experience dizziness, consider using a cane to
reduce injury due to falls.

Research treatment plans for MS. Standard allopathic medicine and alternative
medicine disciplines all have several therapy options. While there is no cure
for MS, there are many options to help slow down disease progression, reverse
symptoms, and even help repair myelin.

Giving yourself or family member an injection

Giving yourself or a family member an injection can be scary. Most people don't
like shots and the idea of giving one can be a major stressor. However, for many
people with multiple sclerosis, weekly or even daily injections are a way of
life.

People with MS routinely give inject their medications into a muscle, IM
injections, or just under the skin. These are called subcutaneous injections.
(SQ)

It is important to know which type of injection you are to use when taking your
injectable multiple sclerosis therapy.

Your neurologist, doctor or MS nurse will instruct you in the correct way to
take your shots and you will be given plenty of time to practice. If you are
unsure of the correct procedure for giving your shots, ask. It is your health
practitioners job to help you become comfortable administering your own
injections.

Whichever type of injectable medication you take be sure to store it as the
manufacturer suggests. Refrigerated medications should be allowed to sit on a
counter for at least an hour to warm to room temperature.

Gather all your supplies before starting and do not let anything distract you
while you are preparing or administering your shot.

Most MS medications suggest applying ice to the intended injection site before
hand to lessen pain and help reduce reactions.

To reduce the likelihood of injection site reactions, it is very important to
rotate shot locations. You should never inject in the same area twice in a row,
and if possible never in the same month.

IM injections are given in the large muscles of the thigh, hip, upper arm or
buttocks. SQ injections can be given just about anywhere, but remember to
alternate injection sites.

After giving the injection, massage the area gently for several minutes and
then apply ice.

Standard Allopathic treatments for Multiple Sclerosis.

While there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, there are many treatments. Some
help delay onset of disability and work to slow progression of the disease.
These are called disease altering drugs or DAD. Some treatments are designed to
shorten the length of exacerbations or flare-ups. Still other medications are
used to relive symptoms of MS either short term or long term.

The most popular DAD medications are the Interferon beta drugs. Avonex, Rebif
and Betaseron fall into this class. These medications work to limit immune
system response and help reduce the number and frequency of MS attacks.

During an active exacerbation, prednisone based medications can be given to
reduce the length and severity of the flare up. Prednisone is a steroid
medication that reduces inflammation within the body.

Managing pain in multiple sclerosis

When you think about multiple sclerosis symptoms, pain isn't the first thing
that comes to mind. From the outside you can't see it, those who know the
person may not even realize the amount of pain they experience But, it's there.

The pain associated with multiple sclerosis comes in many forms. Stabbing
pains, muscle spasms, pins and needles, or little twinges that seemed to come
from nowhere are all common. They are all caused by the same thing - nerve
damage.

Pain associated with multiple sclerosis is classified in two types, acute pain
and chronic pain. The acute pain of multiple sclerosis is sharp and brief. It
seems to come and go randomly.

Trigeminal Neuralgia -- this is a stabbing pain in the face. It may feel like
someone stabbing you in the face with a needle. Many people say that it
sometimes feels like a toothache however, it is caused by damage to the
trigeminal nerve. Most of the time, this type of pain can be treated
successfully with medications such as carbamazepine or phenytoin.

Lhermitte's Sign is a very common symptom in multiple sclerosis. When I the
person ends their head forward there is a stabbing feeling similar to being
shocked with an electrical wire. Anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed
to prevent this sensation, or the person may choose to wear a soft collar to
keep them from bending the neck forward. For burning or aching your doctor may
prescribe and anticonvulsant medication called gabapentin (Neurontin) or an
antidepressant medication called amitriptyline (Elavil). Both of these
medications modify the way the central nervous system reacts to pain. When a
compression stocking or glove might help by converting the sensation to pay
into a pressure. Placing a warm compress on the area might help convert this
pain sensation to warmth.

Leaky Gut and Multiple Sclerosis

No one knows what causes multiple sclerosis. Throughout the world you'll find
as many theories on the causes of autoimmune diseases as you'll find
researchers.

One fairly popular theory states that autoimmune diseases such as asthma,
multiple sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig's disease are caused by either a form of
leaky gut syndrome or food sensitivities.

Leaky gut syndrome occurs when intact proteins passed through small spaces
between the intestinal walls and enter into the bloodstream. When this occurs,
the immune system is activated into attacking these proteins because to the
immune system, intact food proteins is an invader. The problem is that these of
food proteins also very closely resemble the tissue of the central nervous
system. When the immune system attacks the food protein it also attacks the
body's own myelin.

The best ways to keep this from occurring are to first, heal the leaky gut in
order to slow down and hopefully prevent intact food proteins from entering the
bloodstream. And, second stop eating foods that contain proteins that are known
to mimic the self-proteins of the central nervous system.

Many people have a natural vulnerability to developing leaky gut syndrome.
Things like eating a food you're sensitive to, alcohol consumption, infection,
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, candida (yeast) overgrowth, and
parasites can cause the small spaces in intestinal walls to get larger. This
will allow more food proteins to leak into the bloodstream.

One of the most important things when healing a leaky gut is the very careful
regarding food sensitivities. It is recommended that all people with multiple
sclerosis has a allergy or ELISA test to determine which foods their body
reacts to.

Many people with multiple sclerosis have found that by avoiding the foods they
show sensitive to by the ELISA test they have fewer flare-ups and a definite
decrease in symptoms.

Herbal supplements used to treat multiple sclerosis

Although not recognized in standard allopathic medicine, the use of herbal
supplements can be very useful in treating MS.

Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. In addition to treating inflammation
caused by multiple sclerosis, fish oil also may have the ability to assist in
myelin repair. It is often recommended by alternative medicine practitioners
that people with multiple sclerosis take between 3 and 9 grams of fish oil
daily, for optimal myelin repair.

Some studies have shown that soya lecithin combined with fish oil may further
help myelin repair itself after an MS attack.

It has been shown that the body needs adequate calcium intake in order to
optimize its ability to transmit electrical signals. In addition, some studies
have shown that high intake of vitamin D may slow the progression of multiple
sclerosis. Therefore, it is recommended that people with MS take a combination
of calcium and vitamin D daily.

Magnesium and calcium work together to assist electrical signals traveling in
the body. Taken before bed, magnesium is also very helpful in treating restless
legs syndrome, or spasticity at night. People with MS can take up to 1500 mg of
magnesium per day. Too much magnesium can cause loose stools or other bowel
problems.

Many people with multiple sclerosis suffer from severe fatigue. A good
B-complex sublingual liquid can help treat this. Be sure the preparation you
choose has a high concentration of vitamin B-12.

For depression associated with multiple sclerosis, many people use St. John's
Wort.

Sometimes, multiple sclerosis can make you feel as if you're thinking slower
than normal or that your brain is in a fog. Ginseng and/or Ginko Biloba may
help treat this.

Of course, speak to your doctor or alternative medicine practitioner before
starting this or any other supplement regimen. Some vitamins, minerals, or
supplements may interact with standard multiple sclerosis treatments.

Depression caused by multiple sclerosis

Depression associated with multiple sclerosis can be a double edged sword. The
effects of multiple sclerosis can cause depression if specific parts of the
brain or nervous system are affected. At the same time, the challenges and
obstacles that come with having MS can also bring on depression, especially if
the person finds it difficult to do things they've always done before.

There are many prescription medications available to treat depression. Some of
the most popular and well-known are Zoloft, Prozac and Elavil. Take the time to
discuss their use with your doctor.

There are also several very effective herbal remedies for depression.
Chamomile, Kava Kava and St. John's Wort has all proven effective in treating
depression in many people. Before using any herb is important to discuss it
with your doctor. Some herbal preparations can interact with standard multiple
sclerosis treatments.

Regardless of how busy you are, be sure to set time aside to do something you
enjoy every day. And, even though you feel bad, you should spend time with
family and friends everyday. Isolating yourself from those you care about will
just make you feel worse.

It is also important to get out of the house and spend time in the sunlight.
Many people experience depression and they do not receive enough sunlight, and
this is called seasonal affective disorder, and occurs mostly in the winter but
can happen anytime.

Anyone will get depressed if they feel they do not have a purpose. Regardless
of your level of disability, find something that you can do that gives you a
sense of purpose; help a neighbor or a family member or consider volunteering.

Don't discount the value of daily exercise in battling depression. Exercise
releases endorphins, which help elevate your mood naturally.

Remember also, that all the Interferon beta medications used to treat MS have
the side effect of causing depression. If you are experiencing depression and
taking these medications you should call your doctor right away.

The matter what its cause, depression should be taken seriously.




Benefits of assist dogs

The majority of people with multiple sclerosis never develop total disability.
However, almost everyone with MS develops some type of disability. On days you
are dizzy, off balance or in pain, or experiencing other symptoms, you need a
little help.

An assistance dog may be of great help in these cases. Most people equate
assist animals with seeing eye dogs. But, it is possible train a dog to help
with physical problems, as well.

A dog can be taught to pick up something off the floor, retrieve the telephone,
or even a person. For those with balance issues, a larger dog can be taught to
let the person lean on them. The dog can then help guide their person.

Around the house, an assist dog may turn on lights, carry a plate, get an
object or family member, or help their person get dressed. Some dogs can even
be taught to help pull a wheelchair.

In public, a physical assist dog can get something from a shelf, hold keys or
other objects or help their person maneuver through a crowded store. In
addition, an assist dog adds an extra measure of protection against violent
crime for a person who is more vulnerable.

Many good dog-training agencies work to train physical assist dogs. Several
places provide curriculum and guidance to help you train your own dog.

It may be beneficial to have an experienced trainer do the initial training
work, but, since needs may change, the person with MS should also learn the
best way to teach their dog new tasks.

Remember, your dog must regularly practice the things it has learned so he/she
does not forget what is expected.

A good assist dog is large enough to physically complete the tasks you want to
teach and calm enough to accompany you anywhere.

Tips to keep cool

For people with multiple sclerosis, it is very important not to let themselves
get overheated. When the body overheats, there is usually an increase of
symptoms. Medically, this is called a pseudo exacerbation. Typically this
causes mild or occasional symptoms to get worse. The most common MS symptoms
effected are dizziness, speech difficulties, loss of balance, fatigue, and
clarity of thinking. However, it is important to remember that any symptom the
person has experienced can be effected.

Cooling vests can be purchased for minimal cost. Some of these vests are
designed to be soaked in cool water and put in the freezer, others have inserts
that you keep in the freezer until needed, much like ice packs used for keeping
lunches cool. For those on a limited income, the National MS Society can
sometimes help with purchase.

Wearing a large bath sheet around your neck will do the same thing. Just keep
the bath sheet or towel in the freezer until you need it.

Whenever possible, stay out of the direct sun and away from hot, stuffy places.
During summer, ask a friend or family member to run errands for you. You might
consider hiring a local teenager to do these for you, as well. If you must go
out in the heat, drink plenty of water, wear a wide brimmed hat to keep the
direct sun off, and always seek shade. Wear a cooling vest or cold towel around
your neck. For outdoor activities, invest in a personal, handheld fan, they
spray cool water on you and can help lower body temperature.

Listen to your body. If you find yourself feeling unwell, feeling unusually
tired, or having an increase in symptoms, stop what you are doing and go cool
off. Find an air-conditioned store, or just sit in your car with the air
running until you feel better.

The importance of eliminating toxins

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. This
means that something causes the immune system to go into overdrive and attack
normal, healthy myelin. No one is quite sure why this happens, however one
theory that the body is reacting to toxins either ingested or in the
environment.

Some people have found significant reduction of symptoms or flare-ups by
eliminating potential toxins in the foods they eat and in their home and
workplace.

In order to eliminate potential toxins from foods is important to eat whole,
organic foods, and foods, which have not been sprayed with chemical pesticides
or monosodium glutamate (MSG). .

Most packaged foods contain fillers, preservatives, artificial flavors, and
MSG. For the person trying to eliminate toxins in their food, these should be
avoided. Be sure to read labels on everything you buy.

If you eat meat or dairy products, be sure aren't those items do not contain
added hormones or chemicals.

If possible, find out if the fruits and vegetables you are buying have been
sprayed with an MSG compound in the field. This has become common practice in
many places. After purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables be sure to wash them
thoroughly before eating.

Regardless of how well your city filters its water, the water that comes out of
your Contains toxins. Chlorine, and fluoride are used regularly by almost every
city she either purify or enhance the city's water. These chemicals should be
avoided by people who have most full sources. Consider drinking distilled or
specially purified water.

Many researchers point to Mercury is a definite toxin within our environment.
Examine your home, workplace, and dental work for possible sources of mercury.

While removing toxins from food and environment will not sure your MS, it may
serve to reduce flareups or ease symptoms.

The chronic pain of multiple sclerosis

Most people with multiple sclerosis experience some sort of chronic pain. Where
acute pain is sharp and short lived, chronic pain is with the person most of the
time. Sometimes it can vary in intensity and even location, but chronic pain is
always with you.

There are many things that can cause chronic pain for a person with multiple
sclerosis.

Nerve damage can cause burning, tingling, and the sensation of pins and
needles. This phenomenon is called chronic dysesthesias. Typically, this is
treated by either the anticonvulsant medication gabapentin (Neurontin) or the
antidepressant amitriptyline (Elavil). Both of these medications modify how the
central nervous system reacts to pain. Non-medical interventions include wearing
a pressure stocking or glove, applying a warm compress to the skin, or using
over-the-counter and pain medications such as acetaminophen.

Muscle spasms or muscle cramps or called flexor spasms, these are common types
of pain caused by spasticity. This is typically treated with prescription
medications such as baclofen (Lioresal) or tizanidine (Zanaflex). In addition
to medication, this type of chronic pain can be treated by regular stretching,
proper water intake, and adequate dietary intake of sodium and potassium.

Joint tightness and aching is also caused by the spasticity of multiple
sclerosis. This type of chronic pain is ideally treated with light exercise,
regular stretching, and prescription strength anti-inflammatory medications.

In many cases, musculoskeletal pain can be caused not so much by multiple
sclerosis itself, but by techniques used to compensate for balance problems or
problems walking. Also, using mobility devices, such as canes or crutches,
incorrectly will cause back pain. People who use a wheelchair regularly may
commonly experience back pain due to improper posture in their chair. Physical
therapy, massage, and heat are all effective treatments for this type of pain.

In all cases it is important to properly evaluate the source of the pain in
order to most effectively treat it.

The Best Bet Diet

The best bet diet was designed to people who have multiple sclerosis. It is
based on the idea that the immune system goes into overdrive when food proteins
enter the bloodstream through the key yet. The best bet diet is formulated to
eliminate foods which have a molecular structure similar to myelin.By avoiding
the specific foods you reduce the risk that proteins which leak to the blood
might be mistaken for healthy myelin by the immune system.

Common foods that a molecularly similar to myelin include animal milk, butter,
cheese and yogurts made from animal milk.This means that all dairy products
must be avoided. Most people replace these items with soy milk, rice milk, or
coconut milk.

Gluten is another common food item which is molecularly similar to myelin.
Eliminating gluten from the diet means abstaining from wheat, rye, barley, and
possibly oats. These staple grains can be replaced by corn, brown rice, quinoa,
and potato flour. Many places carry gluten-free brands cereals and other
products.

Beans, pulses, peas and all other legumes are to be avoided. However, all other
vegetables are allowed. Creamy few vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and
kale are preferred because they're high in omega-3.

People in the best bet diet should avoid refined sugar. This type of sugar
increases the amount of food protein which leaks into the bloodstream, and also
makes the immune system was effective. More healthful choices include fructose
(fruit sugar), maple syrup, stevia, and honey.

It is very important for people who filed the best bet diet to be sure and have
an accurate ELISA test in order to determine which other foods they are
sensitive to. Food sensitivities may cause the immune system to overreact and
attack healthy myelin.

While the Best Bet Diet is not a cure for multiple sclerosis, it has been shown
us active in reducing the number and severity of flare-ups, in easing symptoms.

Parenting with multiple sclerosis

Many people, newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, wonder how they will be
able to raise their family. In fact, until recently many doctors told women
with MS not to have children.

But, it is possible to raise even a large family if you have multiple
sclerosis. Like everything else, it takes planning and willingness to take an
honest look at your health and abilities.

Don't try to do to be 'super mom or dad.' It's important to remember that even
parents without MS have trouble keeping up with everything. Parents with MS
should learn to budget their time, and more importantly, their energy. Plan a
trip to the playground for times you have more energy, read books and do quiet
activities with your kids during those times you're likely to feel more tired.

As your child grows, be honest with them about your health. Children are
naturally forgiving, and they understand more than most adults give them credit
for.

Don't be afraid to tell your child when you need to change plans because of
multiple sclerosis symptoms. For example, if you have planned to take your
child on a nature hike during the weekend, but find yourself exhausted, there
is nothing wrong with telling your child how you're feeling. You can suggest
another, less physical activity and go hiking when you feel better.

Prioritize your activities. Learn to say yes to things that are important to
you and your child, and say no to those things that hold less weight. Try to do
only one or two major things each day. If you spend two hours doing the weekly
grocery shopping, leave other errands for another day. When the grocery
shopping is finished, do a quiet activity what won't require a lot of energy.

Keep in mind that learning to be respectful of mom or dad's physical
limitations may help your child become understanding, and tolerant of those
around him/her. Children of parents with disabilities tend to grow up to be
responsible, caring and very loving adults.

Optic Neuritis

Optic Neuritis is inflammation and demyelination of the optic nerve. Symptoms
include when vision, loss of visual acuity or sharpness, partial blindness,
pain behind the eye, and changing color vision.

While there are several causes of optic neuritis, it is the single most common
initial symptom of multiple sclerosis. The majority of optic neuritis cases
occur in only one eye.

Optic Neuritis usually affects people between the ages of 15 and 50 years old.
Within this age group, it has been shown that over half of all patients who
develop optic neuritis will be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis within 15
years. Optic neuritis is more common people of European descent. Women have
double the risk of men developing optic neuritis.

Loss of visual acuity affects over half of those with optic neuritis. This
ranges from complete blindness to barely noticeable blurring of vision.

Eye pain is described as an overall achiness behind the eye. Some people
experience a headache behind the effected eye.

Changes in color perception occur in almost all cases of ON. Most people
experience this as a general dulling of the color red.

Many people experience seeing a flashing light in their peripheral vision. Many
people with ON find they see better in a dimly lit room and that bright light
may cause eye pain.

For about half of those with ON, symptoms get worse when they are overheated or
exhausted.

Onset can last a few hours to a few days. Usually sight starts to improve after
about a week. After an attack of ON, many people regain all of their vision, and
even those who go totally blind may completely recover. No one can predict how
much lost vision will be regained.

Approximately 1/3 of all people have a second occurrence of ON. Those who
experience worsening of symptoms due to heat or exhaustion have the greatest
risk of reoccurrence.

Optic Neuritis is typically treated with IV steroids such as Solu-Medrol.

Specific MS symptoms can be treated with medication

Many people with multiple sclerosis experience spasticity or involuntary muscle
movements, and tremors. These can be effectively treated with baclofen,
clonazepam, dantrolene, tizanidine, diazepam, isoniazid and gabepentin.

Bladder problems are a common symptom of MS. Bladder symptoms range from
inability to urinate to incontinence. Bladder infections are common in those
who must use a catheter. Medications used to treat these symptoms include
ciprofloxacin, sulfamethoxazole, desmopressin, imipramine methenamine
nitrofurantoin, oxybutynin, and desmopressin

For depression caused by Multiple Sclerosis or DSD medications, your doctor
will probably prescribe one of the many well known depression medications.

Multiple Sclerosis causes severe pain in the muscles and joints for many
people. This pain can be treated with one of many medications. The most widely
used pain meds for people with MS are Elavil, Tegretol, Klonopin, Neurontin,
Tofranil, Pamelor or Aventyl, and Dilantin. When choosing a pain medication, it
is important to tell your doctor if you have any other medical conditions, take
any other medications or supplements, or if you have ever had a problem with
addiction to drugs or alcohol.

There are many symptoms associated with MS, and at times they can seem
overwhelming, but with proper treatment and effective medication symptoms can
be managed so that the patient can live a full life.

Low Dose Naltrexone and Multiple Sclerosis

Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1984. Its original purpose was to treat
heroin addiction. In high doses naltrexone blocks the receptors that heroin and
other opiates act upon. However, patients using this treatment often did not
stick with it due to side effects of insomnia, severe depression, irritability,
and loss of feeling of pleasure. These side effects occurred because in high
doses, the medication blocks the production of endorphins. Doctors soon stopped
using naltrexone to treat addiction.

In 1985 doctors started researching the effects of naltrexone on the immune
system. They were concentrating on its possible uses in treating AIDS. They
found that low doses of naltrexone taken at bedtime triple the amount of
endorphins produced by the body. During the same study, it was found in most
people with multiple sclerosis have low endorphin levels.

It is thought that proper endorphin levels orchestrate the activities of the
immune system and help the body determine between normal, healthy cells and
mutated, precancerous cells and bacteria.

Taking a small amount of naltrexone at bedtime blocks endorphin production for
a short time while the person is sleeping. During the normal cycle of hormone
release, which occurs in the early morning hours, the body compensates by
producing three ties more endorphins than typical. Therefore, giving multiple
sclerosis patients low doses of naltrexone at bedtime brings endorphin levels
to normal.

Further studies have indicated that low dose naltrexone may slow down disease
progression when taken in amounts of 3g per day, at bedime. Other effects
include relief from spacticity, increased energy and improvement in optic
neuritis symptoms.

Because low dose naltrexone or LDN is not a standard treatment for multiple
sclerosis, it may be difficult to find a physician with accurate information
and who is willing to prescribe it. However, many naturopaths and other
alternative medicine physicians may be more knowledgeable.

It is recommended that people with MS do their own research into LDN and draw
their own conclusions.

Copaxone

There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis. There are several medications thought
to slow the progression of the disease. In some people, these medications can
reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups, and may help reduce the number
of brain and spinal cord lesions. These medications are fairly new, so it is
unknown if they help reduce the extent of disability from MS

One of these medications is Copaxone. This injectable medication is used to
treat Relapsing-Remitting MS. It has no effect on the three other types of
Multiple Sclerosis.

Researchers are not completely sure how Copaxone works to slow MS progression.
It is believed that the drug prevents damage causing cells from forming, and at
the same time stimulating the beneficial cells to help reduce the damage in the
areas with lesions.

Those who choose Copaxone therapy for MS give themselves a subcutaneous
injection (shot under the skin) every day. The medication is dispensed in
pre-filled syringes. Measuring is not necessary. Patients using this therapy
will be taught how to give injections and for most people the entire procedure
takes less than one minute.

As with any medication, there are side effects associated with Copaxone. The
most common side effects are swelling, redness, pain, itching or a lump at the
injection site. Some people experience a break down of the fatty tissue in the
area they take injections.

Just as common are general body reactions like chest pain, weakness, nausea,
joint pain, anxiety, muscle stiffness, and feeling flushed. According to the
makers of Copaxone, these effects are mild and do not usually require medical
treatment.

Less common, but more severe side effects include hives, skin rash with
irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, severe
injection site pain and general painful or uncomfortable changes in your
overall health. Patients experiencing the above side effects should stop taking
injections and call their doctor immediately. .

Novantrone

Novantrone is typically prescribed as chemotherapy for treating cancer. However
its use in treating secondary- progressive, progressive- relapsing, and
significantly worsening relapsing- remitting multiple sclerosis has been proven.

The Interferon Beta medications work by altering the immune system to slow down
progression of the disease, and stave off disability. Novantrone works
differently. It suppresses the immune system by killing off potentially
abnormal T cells, be cells, and macrophages. It is thought that these cells
contribute to the body's attack against the myelin sheath.

For MS patients, Novantrone is prescribed in amounts far less than those used
to treat cancer. Treatments are shorter, spaced farther apart, and have fewer
side effects. Since there is a limit of how much of this medication you can be
given during your lifetime, be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever been
treated with chemotherapy for cancer.

Typically, MS patients receive eight to 10 doses of Novantrone through an IV
over two to three years

However, before starting treatment with Novantrone it is important talk to your
doctor. Tell your doctor if you have ever been diagnosed with heart disease,
blood clotting problems, anemia, or liver disease. If you have ever been
treated with any cancer chemotherapy, or radiation therapy is very important
that you notify your doctor. In addition, tell your doctor if you have a low
white blood cell count, unusual bleeding, or any known allergies. These
conditions could affect your treatment with this medication.

All medications have side effects. Known serious side effects associated with
Novantrone include congestive heart failure, leukemia, and some in problems.

Other side effects are the whites of the eyes turning blue, hair loss, an
increased risk of infection due to a decrease in white blood cell count. In
women Novantrone can cause monthly cycles stop while on the medication. In some
women in this effect is permanent.

Rebif

There are three Interferon beta medications used in the treatment of Multiple
Sclerosis. These medications work to slow the progression of MS, reducing
legions and delaying the onset of some types of disability.

Rebif is one of these medications. Rebif is delivered through subcutaneous
injection three times per week. These injections must be spaced at least 48
hours apart. Many people take them on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before
bed so they don't have to worry about taking injections during the weekend.

Rebif is supplied in pre measured syringes with an auto injector. Auto
injectors look much like a ballpoint pen, and are designed to deliver the
medication to the correct spot under the skin every time. You place the auto
injector against your skin where you want to give the injection and push a
button.

The side effects of Rebif are similar to those of all the Interferon Beta
medications.

Depression and suicidal ideation are common. Those taking Rebif should monitor
their moods closely and keep a diary of their feelings to help ensure
depression is recognized and treated. Before starting Rebif, tell your doctor
if you have ever been treated for or experienced any type of mental illness,
including mild depression. Past bouts with depression can increase risk of this
side effect.

It is important that patients taking Rebif get regular blood tests to check
liver function. Liver failure is a serious side effect of this medication. If
you notice any yellowing of your eyes or skin, or if you start to bruise easily
while taking this medication, discontinue shots and call your doctor immediately.

Most people who take Rebif experience flu like symptoms within several hours of
taking their shot. Fever, chills, exhaustion, muscle aches, and pain usually
subside within two months of starting therapy.

Rebif can cause white or red blood cell counts to drop suddenly and
unexpectedly. Your doctor may order frequent blood tests to screen for this.

As with any medication delivered by injection there is a possibility of
localized injection site redness, soreness and pain. It is suggested to apply
ice to the injection site before and after giving the shot.

Education is important when choosing your Multiple Sclerosis medication.
Research all available options and discuss with your doctor in order to choose
the therapy right for you.

Avonex

The Multiple Sclerosis medication, Avonex, has been available to patients since
1998. Today, Avonex is the most widely prescribed MS treatment in both the
United States and world- wide. It is used exclusively to treat the relapsing
forms of Multiple Sclerosis.

Avonex works to reduce the frequency and severity of Multiple Sclerosis relapse
and, can slow the progression of some types of MS disability. It is one of the
Interferon beta medications approved for the treatment of MS.

Avonex is given as an intramuscular injection, this means is a shot given into
a large muscle, similar to inoculations and insulin. It is taken once a week.
Avonex is dispensed either in pre-filled syringes or as a powder, which the
patient must mix immediately before injection. Like any medication, Avonex has
side effects. The most serious side effects are depression and suicidal
thoughts, and severe liver damage. People taking Avnonex are warned to be aware
of their moods and tell a friend or family member if they become unusually sad.
It is also suggested that those taking Avonex have blood drawn regularly to
test liver function, and watch for yellowing of eyes and skin, or easy
bruising. If any of these occur, patients are instructed to stop taking the
injections and call their doctor right away. Possible sever allergic reactions
to Avonex include heart problems, seizures, changes in thyroid function, and a
drop in white or red blood cell counts. The most common side effects are fever,
chills, muscle aches, extreme fatigue, and sweating. People who take Avonex
injections describe these side effects as similar to having the flu(influenza
virus). Most of the time, side effects decrease with long term use. It is
suggested that those who experience side effects take their injections at night
so that they sleep through the worst of the reaction. Everyone with Multiple
Sclerosis must make an informed decision regarding treatment. It is important
to educate yourself about all the treatments options and decide what is right
for you.

Betaseron

The third of the Interferon beta medications is called Betaseron. It is used 
to treat the remitting types and secondary progressive type of Multiple
Sclerosis. While Betaseron is an Interferon beta drug, it has a different
classification than Avonox and Rebif. Betaseron works differently that the
other two, as well. This medication blocks T-cells from attacking myelin and
reduces the amount of a protein called cytokines. Cytokines activates the
immune system, which in people in MS can cause a flare up. This medication is
administered through a subcutaneous injection every other day. The typical
dosage is 250 mcg per injection. Betaseron will be dispensed by the pharmacy in
three parts, a pre-filled diluting syringe, a vial adapter with needle attached
and a vial of powdered medication. You will use one of these three part sets
for each injection. This means Betaseron does not need to be refrigerated, and
easy to take along with you when you travel. As with all current medications
for Multiple Sclerosis, Betaseron has serious side effects, and the potential
to cause liver failure. Depression is one of the most common side effects of
Betaseron. Those using this medication should talk with their doctor about any
signs of depression or thoughts of suicide. If you, or a family member,
caregiver or friend notices depression, you should notify your doctor right
away. Some people have severe allergic reactions to Betaseron. Anaphylaxis is
one of the known allergic reactions, if you notice difficulty breathing or
swallowing call for emergency medical assistance immediately. Other allergic
reactions include swelling, hives, and swelling of the mouth and tongue. As
with any injected medication, injection site irritation is always possible
Betaseron is given in graduated dosing. Patients start with a small dose and,
over time, work up to the full dose. This increasing dosing schedule helps to
reduce the side effects of muscle pain, fever, fatigue, and chills that are
common with Interferon beta drugs. While these flu like side effects do still
occur with Betaseron, their frequency is greatly reduced. Deciding which, if
any, disease altering medication to use is an important step in managing and
learning to live with your disease. Research medication options completely and
discuss with your doctor before making your choice.

Nonchemical ways to deal with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis

In addition to herbs and medications a person might take, there are many ways
to treat symptoms of MS.

Problems with spasticity can be helped by doing simple yet thorough stretching
every day. Taking a slow walk will also help loosen joints and muscles and
relieve tightness and soreness. Many people find a heating pad or warm compress
and massage to be helpful as well.

Pain can by various meditation techniques, distraction, and biofeedback.

Some people with multiple sclerosis experience difficulty in speaking, they may
either stutter or slur their words. Sometimes this condition can be relieved by
either writing as you speak or, using a homemade or standard sign language
while talking. These techniques encourage the brain to use different pathways
for speech.

For those sensitive to the heat, wearing a commercial cooling vest or cold wet
towel around the neck is very beneficial. Taking this step to keep the body
cool reduces the increase of symptoms associated with overheating.

It's cannot be emphasized enough the importance of reducing the stress in your
life. High stress situations can cause the immune system to kick into overdrive
and actually cause an MS attack or flare up. Talk to your family about chores
they can do or ways they can help you reduce your stress.

It is also very important not to allow yourself to become overly tired. Some
people find they need to cut their work hours from full-time to part-time. If
you have physically demanding or stressful job you may need to consider
changing careers.

Proper nutrition is important to help keep the immune system running as
smoothly as possible. Adequate water intake is also important. It is
recommended that most people drink approximately half their weight in ounces of
water per day.

By taking a few simple steps you might be able to reduce the severity of
symptoms and the amount of medication you take.






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