Treating Your Multiple Sclerosis Attacks
Treating multiple sclerosis can be a complicated proposition. There are several aspects of the disease that require treatment, including symptoms, disease progression, and MS attacks.
The following treatment options are used for the acute treatment of MS, or MS attacks. An MS attack is identified as a period where the patient’s symptoms flare up, causing a lot of discomfort and potentially difficulty carrying on with their life.
Steroids may be taken orally or administered intravenously. The most commonly used steroids are prednisone and its IV counterpart. They work by reducing inflammation of the nerves. However, they come with lots of side effects like mood swings, weight gain, insomnia, and high blood pressure which makes them desirable only as short term treatments.
With this treatment, blood is removed from the body and the blood cells separated from the plasma (liquid). Then, the blood cells are mixed with a protein solution and put back into the body through an IV. This treatment may be used if steroids didn’t work or if symptoms are new or very serious.
Medications to Stall Progression of Multiple Sclerosis
By nature, MS is a degenerative disease. The myelin is damaged and there’s currently no treatment to repair it. Because of this, medications are often used to slow or sometimes almost stop the damage done to the nerves. The following medications may be used for those purposes.
These are the type of medication most commonly prescribed to slow the progression of MS. These injections cut down on the number and severity of MS attacks. Side effects include liver damage, so liver enzymes are monitored in patients who are on beta interferons.
This medication has been proven to slow the onset of disability due to both primary progressive and relapse-remitting MS. It is given via IV.
Glatiramer acetate acts by stopping the immune system from attacking myelin. It is given via transdermal injection.
This is an oral medication with less severe side effects than many other MS medications. It has been shown to lower the prevalence of relapses.
Another oral medication, fingolimod may lower heart rate. Due to this, patients should be monitored closely for several hours after the first dose is taken.
Though this is another relapse-reducing medication, the side effects are hefty and may include hair loss and liver damage. It should never be used by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant as it can do irreparable harm to a developing fetus.
This medication uses a unique approach to slowing MS progression. It works to stop the immune cells that cause myelin damage from making their way into the spinal cord and brain, where debilitating damage is done.
This medication both suppresses white blood cells and attacks a specific protein on the surface of the damaging immune cells. While it can reduce the damage done to the nerves, it also leaves users of the drug open to infection.
Another immunosuppressant, this drug is rarely used in MS due to the damage it can cause to the heart. It’s typically reserved for very advanced MS and is used as a last ditch effort to stop the disease from progressing.