Multiple Sclerosis Disease brings with it a unique set of challenges, including a higher risk of certain other health issues. Some of these are known complications of MS, while for others, the reasons behind the association with Multiple Sclerosis Disease remain unclear. In some cases, there are steps you can take to prevent these MS-related health risks. And in all cases, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs so you and your doctor can take quick action if they appear.
1-Cardiovascular Disease:People with MS appear to be at increased risk of heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease, according to a review of studies on the topic published in March 2015 in Multiple Sclerosis Disease.While the review couldn’t establish the reasons for this higher risk, the authors point out that people with Multiple Sclerosis Disease have higher rates of smoking and being overweight or obese, and lower levels of physical activity, than the general population — all of which can contribute to cardiovascular disease.To lower your risk, “It’s vital that you stay active and exercise, even if you’re in a wheelchair, to keep your heart and blood pumping throughout your body,” says Stephen Krieger, MD, a neurologist at the Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for MS and an associate professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.Dr. Krieger adds, “Eat a heart-healthy diet and be diligent about knowing your numbers, especially cholesterol counts and blood pressure.”While different types of cardiovascular disease have somewhat different signs and symptoms, any abnormal pain, fatigue, or shortness of breath should prompt you to see a medical professional.
2-Deep Vein Thrombosis:Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot in one of the deep veins of your body, typically a leg. It’s particularly dangerous if the clot breaks loose and travels to a lung.People whose Multiple Sclerosis Disease has caused them to be less mobile are at risk for DVT.In fact, a study published in April 2014 in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis found a 2.6-fold increased risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the veins) in study subjects with Multiple Sclerosis Disease and noted that immobility, spasticity, and use of steroids were associated with a higher risk.Signs and symptoms of DVT include swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth, or redness in or on your leg.To prevent blood clots in your legs, avoid sitting or lying in one position for prolonged periods, and take short walks a few times a day. If you cannot walk, consider doing leg-strengthening exercises, modified as needed, to keep the blood flowing in your legs.
3-Epilepsy and MS:According to research published in BMC Neurology in December 2013, Multiple Sclerosis Disease and epilepsy (recurrent seizures) occur together more commonly than can be explained by chance, although why they occur together is not yet known.Seizures can take several forms, including brief lapses in consciousness with jerking movements of the arms and legs, lapses in consciousness without abnormal movement, and episodes of staring or repetitive motions, during which the person remains conscious but is not aware of their environment.If you experience a seizure, see your doctor. Not all seizures are caused by epilepsy, and it’s important to investigate what caused a seizure and whether future seizures are likely.
4-Sleep Disorders Associated With MS:Multiple Sclerosis Disease increases your risk of sleep disorders. Among those that have been linked to Multiple Sclerosis Disease are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, and rapid eye movement behavior disorder. Research published in the January 2014 issue of Sleep Medicine found that treating underlying sleep disorders might help ease MS-related fatigue.If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk with your doctor. Having a sleep study may help to pinpoint the problem, getting you to the right treatment faster.
5-Urinary and Bladder Problems:MS may leave you vulnerable to frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Symptoms include a frequent urge to go and a burning sensation with urination. UTIs can also make certain Multiple Sclerosis Disease symptoms worse; that’s why antibiotic treatment is essential when you have a UTI.Urinary urgency can also be a symptom of overactive bladder, a potential complication of Multiple Sclerosis Disease. If you find yourself frequently running to the bathroom or waking up at night to urinate, see your doctor. Bladder problems related to MS can often be managed effectively.To prevent UTIs, be sure to drink enough fluids, and limit those containing caffeine or alcohol. Also, for peace of mind, locate the bathrooms wherever you go so you can get there quickly.
6-Depression and Suicide:It’s normal to feel sadness and other negative emotions when you learn you have Multiple Sclerosis Disease. As time goes on, you’re likely to have good days and bad days and, along with them, worries and fears. That’s normal, too.But if you become depressed or extremely irritable and your sadness doesn’t seem to ever go away or impairs your daily functioning, seek help. Untreated depression can lead to suicide. A mental health professional experienced with Multiple Sclerosis Disease can be an important member of your healthcare team.