Medical Alerts for Seniors with Multiple Sclerosis

Introduction

Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which your own immune system attacks the covering or sheath on your nerves. This will destroy the sheath, which limits the nerves’ and brain’s ability to communicate. The disease has no cure, but can be managed with certain medications and practices, such as exercise, eating right and resting.

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Multiple Sclerosis Overview

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease in which a person’s immune system attacks the protective covering on nerve fibers, called myelin. Injury to the nerves causes the body and brain to have difficulty communicating. The body reacts with fatigue, numbness, weakness, dizziness, vision problems, bladder and bowel problems and depression, but often symptoms vary from person to person.

There is no cure for MS, and scientists do not know why some people get it and some people don’t. Many believe it is related to an environmental factor that some people are more sensitive to. There are treatments that can assist in recovering from attacks of symptoms, and strategies to modify or slow the course of the disease.

MS is usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 by ruling out other possibilities. In addition, women are more often diagnosed than men. To be diagnosed with MS, your doctor must find evidence of at least two areas of damage in the central nervous system, occurring at different times. There are four different disease courses that range from mild to moderate to severe.

Multiple Sclerosis Impairment
  • Numbness or weakness are common signs of MS. They can affect a limb or one side of the body. This makes it difficult for a person to walk. Paralysis of the legs is also possible. MS sufferers may become wheelchair-bound at some point in the progression of the disease.
  • Tremors and lack of coordination are also known symptoms, which make it difficult to manage daily tasks.
  • Vision problems: The nerves in the eye are part of the central nervous system. The disease can cause double vision or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time.
  • Bladder, bowel and sexual problems: Because our organs are controlled by our nervous system, the disease can affect our ability to manage these parts of the body.
  • Cognitive changes and depression: The disease is unpredictable, and can strike at any time. This may cause the person suffering to develop clinical depression.
Medical Alert Benefits

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease. A person with the disease may experience symptoms for some period of time, followed by a remission. The remission can last for weeks, months or even years. Attacks can range from mild to severe. Many of the symptoms are accompanied by pain. Once the disease is diagnosed, the symptoms can be managed with corticosteroids and other medications. It is recommended that MS sufferers have physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve mobility.
Sufferers of MS may not need emergency care over the course of their disease. If a new symptom arises, the person should consult their physician. The need for a medical alert system may not be necessary, but could provide peace of mind that help is just a push of a button away.

Safety Without Medical Alerts

In addition to medication, signs and symptoms of MS can be relieved by making a few lifestyle changes:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Exercise
  • Eat a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (found in olives, flax and some types of fish)
  • Avoid stress
  • Alternative therapies, such as yoga, meditation, massage and acupuncture may be helpful.
  • Consider finding an MS support group
  • Continue to maintain normal daily activities as much as possible
  • Be sure to find someone to talk to if you begin to experience depression
Multiple Sclerosis Precautions

Multiple sclerosis cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be mitigated by taking certain medications to reduce swelling of the nerve covering, and medication for pain. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe drugs that slow the immune system from attacking the myelin. Flare-ups of the disease may be prevented with medications, but these drugs may cause problems with everyday life. If the flare-ups go away on their own, it might be wise to stop the medications (with your doctor’s go-ahead, of course).

If necessary, flare-ups can also be treated with intravenous steroids. The drugs will help to prevent further damage to the myelin, and slow the advance of the disease. Prescribed drugs should always be taken as instructed by your doctor. If you are having trouble with any of your medications, consult your doctor ASAP.

Multiple Sclerosis Medical Alerts Conclusion

People with multiple sclerosis may find that medical alerts are not necessary early on in their disease progression. However, it would provide peace of mind if periodic flare-ups are severe. Later in the disease progression, having medical alerts might prove beneficial, since the person may be wheelchair bound or limited in their ability to get around. 

In any case, medical alerts should be considered when dealing with a disease such as MS, as it is unpredictable and may strike with severe symptoms.

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