MS treatments, medicines, side effects
The war in the fight to win over chronic illnesses is one that is a continuous struggle. It feels like almost every day something new, a new treatment, a new medicine will hit the market. We all hope for a final cure for illnesses like Cancer, Aids, and others. Multiple Sclerosis is no different. It is a chronic disease with no cure. Still, there are many ways to try and control to a certain point the progress of the illness. For the last seven years, I have been battling this disease. New drugs and treatments have come to the market, and more are in the process. Still, for me, I feel every day I discover a new symptom with this disease.
In writing this article, I did some research about the different medications, and I have tried several of them through my journey with this ailment. I do not pretend to know everything, in the same way, that I cannot advise what it is best. There is something new to learn every day. MS behaves differently with each person. Consequently, I want to give you the perspective of someone that battles MS with all her power. If nothing else, I want you to get from this article and from my previous ones the following three concepts: never to give up, to be informed and to battle for your well-being and your quality of life.
Medicines that suppress the immune system and as such help with symptoms and slow progression of MS. Interferon, Imuran, Gilenya, Tysabri, Extavia, Copaxone, Tecfidera. Most of these medications do have side effects sometimes serious. From this list, I have tried Copaxone, and now I have been for about a year with Tecfidera. Keep your journal close and remember to keep your doctor informed at all times.
Side effects with some of these medications are difficulty moving, itching, loss of strength, loss of appetite, pain in the side of injections, headaches and flu symptoms and dizziness. In the case of Imuran, some patients have noticed hair loss during the firs few weeks of treatment, but usually, it grows back.
I am doing a separate overview about this one because it is a treatment that may have severe side effects. It is used to try some relapsing forms of MS. The treatment consists of applying the medication to your body by an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this IV. The treatment is every four weeks.
The procedure of this treatment is somewhat dangerous. The infusion goes slowly into the body, and the IV infusion can take at least 1 hour to complete. You will be watched closely for at least 1- 2 hours after receiving the infusion, to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction to the medication.
Tysabri may cause a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). This disease may be more likely if you use Tysabri for longer than two years. Be aware of the following and check with your doctor right away: a sudden fever, severe headache, confusion, memory problems, vision changes, weakness on one side of your body, or problems using your arms or legs. These symptoms may start gradually and get worse quickly.
Before your first dose, your doctor may recommend an MRI to make sure you do not have any signs of a brain infection. You are your best advocate, and as such you know your body and what feels right. Do not wait.
The use of this type of medications is prescribed by neurologists to treat acute attacks or exacerbations of MS. These are potent drugs and are applied at the hospital or medical center and require complete blood tests, sodium, and potassium tests. You will also get a check for blood pressure and pulse.
The medication is given intravenous and takes about 45 minutes. Usually, you can resume your daily activities. Procedures are performed anywhere from 1 – 5 days, and afterward, you may receive an oral form of steroids to continue treatment for a certain amount of time.
In this section, some of the commonly used medicines for the treatment of MS are Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone, Decadron, Prednisone, Fluticasone.
As we the immunosuppressive drugs, Steroids also have side effects like:
Upset stomach, Headaches, Dizziness, Vomiting, metallic taste in the mouth. Other serious side effects reported with this treatment are mood changes, depression, and anxiety. Others describe easy bruising and increased hair growth.
Other medications used in the treatment of MS are:
A procedure in clinical trials is the Stem Cells. Several clinical trials and experimentation are going on with this form of therapy. There are some promising results, but the process is still in its early development and its success not yet quantitative. You can check this article for more information on the procedure here:
- Anti depressants and anti anxiety medicines to treat depressions, insomnia and other by-products of MS medications and conditions
- Antibiotics to treat infections of the bladder and others
- Gastrointestinal drugs to treat nausea, stomach problems, and ulcers
- The drug Ampyra that has shown positive results improving the walking in some patients with MS
A new machine is on the market for patients with foot drop due to MS. It is named Walkaide. This machine is a small device that is worn around the knee and sends an electrical signal to the peroneal nerve, forcing the foot to lift and step. It has helped some MS patients to improve their walk. IT does not work for everybody. In my case, it does not work. The machine is also costly (about $5,000), and insurance does not cover it. Check my other two articles: Multiple Sclerosis treatments, medicines, alternative options and Day by day with Multiple Sclerosis for more.
It is my hope that the articles I have published here do help. Remember to take care of yourself, continue your treatment and medications. Keep a journal and always communicate your symptoms to your doctor. The most important advice is always to be proactive.
For those that are related to someone with the illness, or know a friend or colleague, offer your help, support, and ear. The support of family and friends is the best medicine for a patient with MS or any other chronic illness.
If you are suffering from this disease or know someone that is, visit these organizations:
Get involved, get informed, take an active part in your treatment, stay on top of any new issues, relapses, and new symptoms. Increase your knowledge, read and stay informed. The battle with MS is for a long time, and you need to be a brave warrior and keep one up against the disease. That is the formula that has kept me alive, battling and confident. Never give up!
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