InforMS: Fall 2018

InforMSFall2018 coverPlaying Defense

Preventive Care can go a long way toward limiting other health problems when you're living with MS.




Playing Defense

By Kerri Cechovic | “Preventive Care” is a term we hear a lot these days. What it actually means can be diff erent from person to person, and from doctor to doctor.

Generally speaking, it means taking steps and making choices to lower your risk for illness, or to get a head start on identifying health problems that may be on the horizon. For practical purposes, this usually means an annual visit to your primary care provider, who’ll determine, based on your age, sex and other factors which, if any, screening tests are necessary. There’s also an educational component to preventive care, where a patient will be asked about certain aspects of their life and counseled on any potential risks they could pose — for example, we’re commonly asked if we smoke cigarettes, and medical professionals are quick to point out the associated risks.

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Partnering with Your Healthcare Provider

One of the most important relationships a person living with a chronic illness has is with their healthcare team. But medical appointments are often an under-utilized part of your healthcare and wellness resources. Time constraints, anxiety, and poor communication, among other things, can contribute to a less than satisfying and helpful experience.

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Keeping Track of your Health History

It’s important to keep reliable records of your MS history— keeping track of new symptoms, changes in symptoms, and the treatments you receive. Even if you think you won’t, you’ll probably forget details about your MS history, so it’s useful to have your own record.

Although it’s becoming less common with the advent of digital recordkeeping, medical records can get lost, and charts that have been closed for a long time can be destroyed. And people change doctors -- even if you have no intention of doing so now, you never know if plans will change.

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Fighting Fatigue with Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy eating is one of the most common pieces of advice we hear. Whether it’s your doctor, a well-meaning family member, or a relentless friend on social media, it shouldn’t be a secret to anyone that a healthy diet is central to our overall health.

As with most of the other preventive measures discussed in this issue, healthy eating is particularly important for those living with MS. A healthy diet can lower your risk for other health problems and stave off things that could complicate your MS, but healthy eating also has a much more practical benefi t for those living with MS.

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The Dental and MS Connection

Content contributed by Dr. Larry Coffee of Dental Lifeline Network. For more information, please visit:

Dental cavities and gum diseases are bacterial infections that can make your MS symptoms worse. Bacterial infections, including cavities and gum disease, can spread more easily throughout our bodies when some disease modifying therapies quiet the immune system. Even a slight fever from infections, including dental, can increase flares.

Other drugs used for pain, fatigue, bladder and other spasms can make it easier for bacterial dental infections to develop and get worse by reducing the amount of saliva we produce, creating a dry mouth. Some drugs make it easier for dental infections to develop, while others make it easier for bacteria to spread and other complications.

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