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Relapse - what to do?

Hey Guys

My wife was diagnosed with MS in 2010. For nearly 3 years it was all ok, but currently she is going through relapse. In the last 5 weeks, her mobility deteriorated quite badly, she nearly lost her sight completely, these are all new symptoms. We met with MS neurologist and she said she would not give steroids right now as the relapse would last up to 6 weeks. We are based in Malaysia there is shortage of experienced MS doctors as MS is not common in this part of the world. My questions are:

  • how important is it to give steroids quickly to stop the symptoms from worsening?
  • is there anything else we could do to stop the symptoms from worsening?

Big thank you in advance

Steroids will only give you an extra boost for a short time, they sometimes will get you back to the way you were before relapse but ultimately they do not stop you getting any worse. DMD’S can only lessen the time between relapses.

The average duration of a relapse is 6 weeks, but they can last many months. Taking steroids early in an attack can shorten it, but how well we recover is the same whether or not we take them. They are very strong drugs so usually best reserved for bad attacks, but I would count losing sight in both eyes as plenty of justification so, if I were you, I would be asking for steroids. Remember though that they do not always work and that your wife’s final degree of recovery will be the same with or without them.

The only other thing that I would ever recommend to help our bodies fight an attack is lots of rest.

Disease modifying drugs (DMDs), e.g. interferon-beta, Copaxone, Tysabri and Gilenya, can reduce the number of attacks and the severity of attacks that we have. If your wife is not on one, then this is definitely something to ask the neurologist about.

I hope she starts to get better soon.

Karen x

Hi steroids give your immune system a kick to quicken recovery. They should be taken as early as possible in the relapse for max effect so am not sure why the doctor has suggested otherwise. I would go back and insist on having them. They won’t stop the relapse but it sometimes seems to speed up recovery a little. I actually feel even worse when I take them so this time I’m just going to ride the storm. As Karen suggests, maybe try to find out if any of the disease modifying drugs are available. Hope she feels better soon!