Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Relapsing MS Treatment?
By: Nurse Catherine
When it comes to relapsing MS treatments, I always tell my patients: Assume nothing and question everything. Every person living with MS has unique needs, and those needs change over time. So there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all, set-it-and-forget-it solution.
There are certain points in time when it’s very important to re-evaluate your relapsing MS treatment. Some of these are obvious, but some of them aren’t, so in this article I’ll give you a few things to consider.
After you’ve done some reflecting on your personal needs, medication side effects, safety, and how easy or hard you find it to take your medication as directed, you may decide that you’re already on the right relapsing MS treatment, which is great. However, on reflection, you may find that your MS treatment may no longer fit your needs, lifestyle or expectations.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
Am I being honest with myself about my goals?
You may be comfortable with staying on your current treatment. However, if you choose to do that because the thought of change can be uncomfortable, you’re not looking at the bigger picture.
Change can be positive. That’s especially true if deep down you know you’re not satisfied with your current relapsing MS treatment. Think about your goals. These goals may include having fewer relapses, seeing no new lesions on your MRIs, or slowing disability progression. Maybe your goal is to slow disease progression overall. Now think about whether or not your relapsing MS treatment is helping you get closer to achieving your goals.
If your goals seem out of reach on your current relapsing MS treatment, you can find comfort knowing that there are plenty of other options out there that you can discuss with your healthcare provider. There’s no need to settle for a relapsing MS treatment that isn’t meeting your expectations.
Are the side effects and dosing schedule manageable?
Many people taking relapsing MS medications just assume they have to put up with side effects or dosing schedules that get in the way of their everyday lives, but that’s not the case. In fact, it’s extremely important to speak up if you’re having trouble taking your medication to avoid problems down the road, because without proper treatment, MS has more of a chance to progress.
You don’t want that to happen—and neither does your healthcare provider. If side effects are affecting your daily life or you’re struggling to stay on top of your relapsing MS treatment schedule, you need to voice your concerns to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may suggest a different relapsing MS treatment option with different side effects or dosing schedule.
What about safety?
Certain relapsing MS drugs have a higher risk profile. However, these relapsing MS medications may also have greater possible benefits, and that’s certainly a factor to consider when it comes to getting the most from a relapsing MS medication. After carefully discussing the risks and benefits, if you and your healthcare provider decide on one of these treatments, you’ll also talk about steps you can take to manage these risks.
When a medicine comes with certain risks, your healthcare provider will be keeping a closer watch, and you may need periodic testing—also known as monitoring—to make sure you’re not having any serious side effects. Oftentimes my patients ask me about monitoring and its importance. I always remind them that it’s a positive thing, because your safety is the most important thing, and monitoring means side effects can be found and addressed quickly and appropriately.
The power to find the right treatment is in your hands
Don’t stay on a relapsing MS treatment because it’s familiar, with the hopes that things will change later on. Chances are, if you’re not happy with your relapsing MS treatment now, you won’t be happy with it in the future. In fact, while an MS treatment may work initially, your body's response may change over time, so why take the "wait and see" approach? It’s as simple as this: Never settle for a relapsing MS treatment that’s not meeting your needs. Have a conversation with your healthcare team, because it’s very likely that the right relapsing MS treatment for you is out there, and you deserve it!
Here’s a helpful tip
Try taking the MS One to One Personal Quiz to see how well your current relapsing MS treatment is meeting your needs.
- Make sure you’re getting the most out of your relapsing MS treatment as your needs change over time.
- Assess how well your current relapsing MS treatment is meeting your expectations in terms of goals, side effects, safety, and how easy or hard you find it to take as directed.
- If your current relapsing MS treatment isn’t working for you, think about what you want for yourself and work with your healthcare team to figure out the right option for you.