Hello and thanks for joining us. We’ll be kicking off the chat in just a few minutes, but if you have a question, you can go ahead and get it in queue.
And as a reminder: WebMD is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on WebMD.
WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.
Hello everyone! I'm really happy to be here, and look forward to a great discussion!
Also joining us is Michelle Cameron, MD, PT. Dr. Cameron is a neurologist and physical therapist specializing in MS. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University and is a staff neurologist at the VA Portland Health Care System. Dr. Cameron is one of the foremost researchers on balance and falls in people with MS. She teaches courses on mobility and rehabilitation in MS to providers around the world.
Please note that the views expressed in this chat are those of the individual experts and do not represent those of their employers – OHSU, the VA Portland Health Care System, or any other organization.
Welcome, Dr. Cameron!
Hi everyone! great to be here and looking forward to our chat!
Let’s start with some questions from readers. The first one is especially timely given that we're headed into the hot summer months.
Hi MJS, many people with MS find their symptoms get worse when they get hot. If you have that problem, when outdoor work needs to be done when the weather is hot and humid I recommend trying to avoid the heat of the day – try to do things in the early morning or evening – and try cooling yourself down. You can use a wet towel frozen in the freezer draped around your neck, drinking cold drinks, and/or wearing a cooling vest. Taking frequent breaks may also help.
I just wanted to add that it is also very important to stay well hydrated, and drinking a lot of ice cold water can help a lot. Cooling towels can be found in a lot of major chain stores and are very nice to take to the gym or outdoors in the summer months.
Hi Abbas, great question! MS does not affect fertility so patients with MS can conceive as readily as anyone else. MS also has almost no impact on the health of your baby, except that the baby may weigh slightly less at birth and you’re more likely to have a C-section delivery. We also know that people with MS usually have fewer relapses during pregnancy but slightly more after delivery, so that tends to even things out. And, don’t forget, if you’re considering pregnancy, it’s important to discuss with your neurologist what you will do with your MS medication before, during and after the pregnancy.
You are right Mike, you shouldn’t be alone! Try starting by getting involved in the MS community, you are more likely to find people who understand you and what you go through on a daily basis. Volunteering with the MS society or other local groups is a great way to grow a supportive social network.
Tweety55, we usually only know if you have transitioned from RRMS to SPMS after the fact, when we find you have stopped having clinical relapses, aren't developing new lesions on MRI, and are having progressive disability - usually worse walking and/or worse cognitive function.
MS is more prevalent in women, and is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
OrganicWG, there's lots we do and don't know about vitamin D and MS. People with lower vitamin D levels are more likely to get MS, and people with MS with low vitamin D levels tend to have more relapses. But... we don't know if taking vitamin D helps prevent MS or MS relapses. Studies on this are going on now so we should know more soon.
There are a different medications that can significantly reduce burning and pain that is related to nerve damage from MS. I recommend speaking to your doctor about treatment options.
Juanita C, exercises done in standing that challenge your balance, like standing on one leg and reaching or standing on an unstable surface, are probably most likely to help improve your balance. Just be sure you do these in a safe place where if you do lose your balance you won't hurt yourself!
Fatigue is a huge struggle for a lot of us living with MS! It is important to follow a strict sleep schedule (going to bed the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning), eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly to the best of your ability. If none of those basic interventions help, and fatigue is still impacting your daily life, then it is time to discuss it with your doctor and see if they recommend any further testing or medications that could help.
Sunstar54, Often a spinal tap can verify MS, but not always. And quite often a neurologist can diagnose MS without a spinal tap. I suggest you go and see a neurologist to help figure out if you have MS.
While there is research being done about how different diets affect MS, there is no specific diet that has been proven to improve MS symptoms. Neurologists currently recommend following the same heart healthy diet that is generally recommended for adults. However, there is no harm in trying Paleo to see how you do on it. You can always try it for a month and decide if it is right for you!
robinholladergoldstein, about 50% of people with relapsing remitting MS get secondary progressive MS 10 to 15 years after diagnosis. Some get it sooner and some never transition.
Ampyra is often called “the walking drug” and is used to improve gait. I have seen it work really well for some people, and not make much of a difference for others. It really depends on the individual.
Kelly, there’s lots we don’t know about marijuana and MS but, for now, the research supports that marijuana helps reduce the patient’s experience of spasticity. However, it looks like regular use of marijuana by people with MS causes worse cognitive problems, even when you're not using it.
A lot of people with MS do continue to work. You may need to cut back on hours, or adapt your role based on your level of disability. Some people have more cognitive symptoms, and other have more physical symptoms which each create unique sets of challenges. Employers are required to work with you to make reasonable accommodations for your MS, and you can speak with your HR department about your options.
Heather, people with MS, and their families, do tend to have more other autoimmune diseases than the general population.
There are medications that can be used for fatigue, I would recommend speaking to your neurologist about them if your fatigue is interfering with your daily life.
Hi, optic neuritis generally improves a lot over a couple of months, but there is also often some mild residual change in vision.