Symptom or Relapse? Know the Difference
What’s a relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS) symptom versus a full-on relapse? If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not alone. Let’s break down the difference so you and your healthcare team can make informed treatment decisions together.
What is a relapse?
If you have RMS, you probably already know that relapses are a big part of your condition. You might call them attacks, flare ups, episodes, or exacerbations—but what are they exactly? You might be having a relapse if:
- Your old symptoms are becoming worse or new symptoms have appeared.
- Your symptoms have lasted for over 24 hours.
- Your symptoms have been stable for at least 30 days before they became worse or new symptoms appeared.
- There is no other explanation for your symptoms.
What does a relapse look like?
Any RMS symptom can be associated with a relapse so it can be difficult to know if you’re having a relapse or if you’re just having a bad patch of symptoms. On the bright side, as you become more familiar with how RMS affects you personally, you’ll recognize your symptoms more easily and know what to do with them.
The most common symptoms associated with relapses are:
- Cognitive issues
- Vision problems
- Numbness or tingling
- Emotional sensitivity
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle stiffness or spasticity
What to do if you think you’re
having a relapse
If you suspect a relapse, call your doctor right away. You’ll be asked about your symptoms and how long you’ve had them, if you’ve
been sick, and if you’ve recently changed your medications. Here are some questions your doctor might ask:
“Have you been experiencing any sensory loss?” or, “Have you felt any numbness or tingling in your toes or fingers?”
From the Nurses' Station
The most important thing you can do is to be open and honest with your healthcare team. Whether you’re experiencing a relapse or a symptom, your healthcare team needs to know. Sharing this information can help you make sure you’re getting the right RMS treatment for you.See Doctor Discussion Guide
Next up: Monitoring RMS progression
Staying on top of your symptoms and how they change over time is important for making informed treatment decisions. Learn more about doing just that in our next session.Read On
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