General Health and Prevention

Wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. It is important to remember that physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being can be achieved even in the presence of a chronic illness or disability.

Now, more than ever, families dealing with MS can benefit from taking a comprehensive approach to maximizing wellness, and thus decreasing symptoms of MS while improving quality of life. Wellness is more than treatment of the disease. Wellness includes prevention strategies, healthy personal relationships, a strong support network, satisfying work and leisure activities, meaningful community involvement, and attention to one's inner self.

In order to offer the best possible care and support to someone else, it is important that family members and caregivers also pay attention to their own health and wellness.

Cold and Flu

Flu Shots: Influenza, known to most of us as simply “the flu,” is a collection of viruses that typically cause well-known symptoms such as fever, aches, pains, cough, and stomach upset. It can sometimes be complicated by more troubling problems such as pneumonia. Influenza is a significant cause of death each year in the U.S., mostly in young children, the elderly, and those with severe chronic diseases, especially those that depress the immune system.

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Diet

veggiesA possible role of diet in MS was proposed more than 50 years ago. Since that time, this area has been a source of much controversy and confusion. Issues related to diet may be especially confusing for people with MS because some diet advocates exaggerate claims, and many healthcare professionals do not discuss the topic in much depth or with much enthusiasm.

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Exercise

There are many possible exercise programs for people with MS. They may include stretching exercises, walking, running, swimming, and a range of other exercises that may be appropriate for all levels of physical functioning. In addition to these conventional methods, exercise may be obtained by unconventional approaches, such as yoga and t’ai chi.

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Exercise - Strategies

The idea that exercise is beneficial and may help prevent certain diseases is not new. The American Heart Association and other health organizations recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week to reduce risk of disease associated with inactivity. However, the most common symptoms of MS--fatigue, depression, sensitivity to overheating, and loss of mobility--can greatly impact a person’s ability to adopt and maintain a healthy exercise routine.

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MS and Shingles

Researchers from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan conducted a nationwide, population-based study to investigate the frequency and risk of MS following the occurrence of herpes zoster, the virus commonly known as chicken pox or shingles. Researchers demonstrated an increased risk of developing MS within one year of a herpes zoster event as compared to the control group. (Jiunn-Horng Kang, Jau-Jiuan Sheu, Senyeong Kao, and Herng-Ching Lin. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2011 June 7 [Epub ahead of print])

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