Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Changes to your lifestyle can help ease symptoms. It can also put off flare-ups and keep symptoms from getting worse. Your coping skills and outlook about your illness can also help manage MS. Some habits you can add are:

  Exercise

Talk to your doctor before you start to workout. Working out can help with muscle strength, balance, and fatigue. Swimming is a good choice. The water helps keep your body cool as you workout.

  Eat a Healthful Diet

Eat a diet that is low in bad fats and rich in whole grains, fruits, and veggies. The fiber in grains, fruits, and veggies helps stop constipation.

Vitamin D levels can be checked in the blood. Talk to your doctor about if you should take Vitamin D pills.

Drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks that cause dehydration, like drinks with caffeine.

  Ease Stress

Many people with MS notice that stress makes their health problems worse. Think about getting massages and doing other things that lower stress, such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing. You may also find it helpful to join a support group. These groups can provide support for you and your family.

  Avoid Too Much Heat

Heat can make symptoms worse. The heat may be outside or inside. Here are some tips:

  • Stay out of hot weather.
  • Stay in air-conditioned places when it is hot outside.
  • Do not take hot showers or baths.
  • Get care right away if you have a fever.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid too much activity.

 Quit Smoking

Smoking may worsen MS. It can turn it into a severe problem. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about choices for quitting. There are classes, online self-help programs, nicotine replacement products, medicines, and many other options.

  Rest

Resting helps ease fatigue.

  Take Steps So You Don't Get Infections

Your health problems can get worse when you get sick. If possible, try to avoid people who are sick.

REFERENCES:

Motl RW, Pillutti LA. The benefits of exercise training in multiple sclerosis. Nat Rev Neurol. 2012;8(9):487-497.

Multiple sclerosis (MS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS. Updated July 23, 2018. Accessed September 26, 2018.

NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Multiple-Sclerosis-Information-Page. Accessed September 27, 2018.

Thompson AJ, Baranzini SE, Geurts J, et al. Multiple sclerosis. Lancet. 2018;391(10130):1622-36.

Wallack EM, Wiseman HD, Ploughman M. Healthy aging from the perspectives of 638 older people with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Int. 2016;2016:1845720.

What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed September 26, 2018.

Yadav V, Bever C Jr, et al. Summary of evidence-based guideline: complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: report of the guideline development subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2014 Mar 25;82(12):1083-1092.

11/9/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS: Healy B, Ali E, Guttmann C, et al. Smoking and disease progression in multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurol. 2009;66(7):858-864.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated 9/26/2018