Managing multiple sclerosis attacks

Manage MS attacks to improve your health and independence.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treating multiple sclerosis (MS) attacks as soon as you sense them coming on can make it easier to maintain a good quality of life. You can use medical and lifestyle strategies to reduce the impact of MS attacks.

  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are mainly used to reduce the inflammation that increases during an attack. Your doctor may prescribe drugs such as oral prednisone and intravenous methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol). Side effects may include mood swings, seizures, weight gain and an increased risk of infections.
  • Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis). In this procedure, doctors remove some blood from your body and separate blood cells from the liquid part of your blood (plasma). They then add a replacement solution to your blood cells and return the blood to your body.

    Plasma exchange may be used to help reduce severe symptoms of MS attacks in people who aren't helped by intravenous corticosteroids.

  • Stay active. Following your regular daily routine as much as possible will help you feel that you are in control of your life.
  • Focus on what you can do. Keeping up with special interests and hobbies will help you maintain ties with family and friends, even if you are unable to do everything you normally do.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy weight contributes to a strong immune system.
  • Get enough rest. During an MS attack you may need to rest more often than you normally do. If possible, build rest breaks into your schedule and adjust your bedtime as needed to improve your ability to manage fatigue.
Mar. 19, 2014 See more In-depth