Tips for common MS symptoms

Get ideas for how to help with MS symptoms
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While not everyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) will have all these symptoms, there are things you can consider while you and your healthcare provider are managing your symptoms. This page collects and offers ideas that may help. Always talk to your healthcare provider as well if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if you have questions on how to help manage them.

Fatigue

  • Learn when you have the most energy during your day, and plan your most taxing activities for that time
  • Divide large jobs into smaller ones. For instance, don’t set out to clean the house. Instead, plan to start with cleaning the bathroom
  • Whether it’s finding an air-conditioned room or drinking a cold beverage, develop ways to cool down so you can avoid becoming overheated 
  • For some people, taking a nap may help recharge their energy
  • Avoid sugar-loaded energy drinks. These give you a quick sugar rush but don't lead to sustained energy. Only consume fast food, junk food, and processed foods in moderation. They load you up with calories—not nutrition

Numbness or tingling

  • Cool down the affected area with ice, water, or a cooling device

Vision problems

  • Speak with your health care provider about whether or not medications may help
  • Try not to wear out your eyes with too much reading or time spent on the computer
  • Take breaks to rest your eyes
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend an eye patch to help with double vision
Memory or focus problems

Memory or focus problems

  • There is a technique called cognitive rehabilitation. Your healthcare provider can refer you to a specialist, such as an occupational therapist or neuropsychologist, who can explain more
  • Certain tools can help you work around memory problems. For instance, keep a calendar, write notes, make lists, and use a smartphone for alerts/reminders
  • Fitness has been associated with positive results on cognitive tests for MS patients
  • Adding an exercise routine may help with memory and focus

Mood changes

  • If you experience mood changes, your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines to help with feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, and other changes in mood
  • Consider speaking with a psychologist about changes in your mood. Therapy can be a helpful tool for addressing these new feelings
Balance

Balance and coordination issues

  • A physical therapist may be one option that can help teach you simple exercises that may help with balance and coordination
  • Adaptive equipment such as a cane or crutches may help you get around
Muscle

Muscle pain

  • A physical therapist can assess your condition, help you work with your body, and give you simple exercises to do on your own
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter pain medicines that may help
bowel

Bowel and bladder control issues

  • Consider limiting caffeine and alcohol, which can be bladder irritants. However, cutting back on your fluids can cause further complications. Try strategically planning your fluid intake based on your schedule. For example, drink more during times of the day when you are home or close to a bathroom
  • Try not to drink too much after dinner to limit disruption to sleep
  • Try to urinate every 2 hours to help train your bladder
  • Aim to drink enough water to keep your urine light yellow

Sexual issues

  • Men have many options available if they are unable to get and maintain an erection. Your healthcare provider can tell you more. Speak to your healthcare provider if you’re having these types of issues
  • Women may experience vaginal dryness. There are many over-the-counter medicines you can try. Speak to your healthcare provider if you’re having these types of issues so he or she can recommend a proper treatment solution

Heat sensitivity

  • Stay in an air-conditioned environment during periods of extreme heat and humidity.
  • Use cooling products such as vests, neck wraps, and bandanas during exercise or outdoor activity
  • Drinking cold fluids may provide temporary relief

Learn how making changes to your diet can help your MS symptoms.

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