How to Manage the Invisible Symptoms of MS
- by Kimberly J.
- September 05, 2016
Kimberly J. is a paid employee of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Think about the last time you saw someone at the store with an apparent physical challenge. They may have been pushing a double stroller or using crutches. You probably noticed people going out of their way to be helpful. It’s not unusual for people to go out of their way to assist someone who clearly needs a little more time, help or patience. But what can be done when symptoms are not so easy to see?
One of the challenges of living with relapsing MS is dealing with the invisible symptoms of the disease. These can include weakness, pain, fatigue, depression and cognitive difficulties, among others. Because these symptoms are not easy to identify visually, it may be difficult to get the support you need.
The first thing to do with these invisible symptoms is to talk to your doctor. Once the source of the symptom is found, it is possible that a conversation with your doctor may help.
It is vital the MS patient take an active role in their treatment. If it is appropriate, educate others about your needs. They might not understand why you have a handicap designation on your car. Likewise, they may not understand that many MS patients have good and bad days. It’s understandable that someone might be confused if they see you walking on a treadmill one day and needing to take a mid-day nap on another day. When it comes to MS, what you see is not necessarily what you get.
Focus on Strengths
Dealing with these symptoms can be frustrating, but it can be done. If fatigue is an issue for you, keep a log of your energy levels over several days. Is morning your best time? If so, plan activities around that time of day. Work from your strengths and pay attention to your symptoms. If you have noticed a change in your cognition, don’t be afraid to write yourself notes. If you have a smartphone, you might place reminders there. If you are comfortable doing so, enlist the help of family or friends.
If you are caring for someone with MS, it is always a good idea to keep these invisible symptoms in mind. It’s not uncommon for patients to have frustration or depression. Sometimes they just need someone who will listen. If appropriate, advocate for the patient and provide education to others.
Finally, be good to yourself. Know that there will be good and bad days and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember, you are not alone!
Shared Solutions® Nurse
About The Author
Kimberly J., RN has been a registered nurse for 4 years specializing in multiple sclerosis for one year.
COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.