Prednisone and Corticosteroids for MS: Helpful Tips

It is amazing how frequently the subject of steroids comes up. Just in the last two weeks, three people told me they were on Prednisone and they were all irritable about the side effects. One was taking them for sinus problems; another was taking Prednisone for arthritis. The third was taking them for an MS flare-up.

They are powerful drugs and are prescribed often for people with and without MS. Why? Because their primary purpose is to reduce inflammation. And inflammation occurs in all parts of the body, and these drugs do help.

But there is much to know about steroids, and unfortunately, the doctor and the pharmacist never tells it all. The first experience with steroids is horrifying to say the least, and creates tremendous confusion and stress. I personally hated them in the beginning, but after I understood my own body’s reactions and the fact that they did work for me, steroids became my friend.

For folks with MS, corticosteroids (“steroids”)–usually Solu-Medrol and Prednisone–are used to reduce the duration and severity of a flare-up (or exacerbation, or attack). Solu-Medrol is given intravenously for 3-5 days usually at home (about 1-2 hours per day). Prednisone is given orally usually over a 10-14 day period, beginning with a very high dosage (e.g. 80 mg/day works for me) and tapering down the last week to 10 mg. by the last day.

What to know about steroids:

  • Again, the purpose of steroids is to reduce inflammation. When the dosage is high, the immune system will become suppressed. Therefore, you want to take all measures to keep your resistance up and your exposure to infections, colds and viruses low. If you currently have an infection or virus causing the flare-up, try to get rid of the infection/sickness before getting on the steroids if possible.
  • A very common side effect of steroids is water retention. Eliminate as much salt as you can from your diet while taking them. This goes beyond table salt. Canned, frozen and packaged foods, pickles, condiments, luncheon meats, etc. are loaded with sodium; so avoid these and eat bland and fresh foods. Often, people will get what they call a “moon face”; the face can become full and rounded.
  • Appetite usually increases when taking steroids, so stick to snacks like carrot sticks, celery, apples, or unsalted popcorn. The sacrifice of a strict food regime for a maximum of two weeks is well worth the extra pounds you won’t gain and have to worry about later.
  • Once you start steroids, follow the complete program and do not just quit taking them. If you do, it can inhibit your adrenal glands from producing the natural amount of cortisol later.
  • A universal complaint is insomnia. Speak with your doctor about sleeping pills. Even with a sleeping pill, you may only get four to six hours of sleep. Try to read, do paperwork, or anything that will keep you from dwelling on not sleeping.
  • There are many other side effects when taking steroids; the amount, type, duration will be different for everyone. For example, I get supercharged and euphoric when I’m on steroids, especially when they kick in and my symptoms are improving. I also get very constipated. Other frequent complaints include irritability and mood swings. If you are anxious, consider asking your doctor about an anxiety pill to minimize stress.
  • For women, it is not proven yet whether steroids affect birth control pills. It is always a good idea to use additional protection while on steroids.
  • Try to temper your expectations and not compare yourself to anyone else. Some people respond faster and better than others. Take notes everyday about what is improving, what isn’t, how much… It will help with your next episode. You will learn your own body reactions and patterns as time goes on.
  • When a steroid program is finished, a person will often go into drug withdrawal. Symptoms may worsen again, and different side effects can pop up. For me, I get the shakes, anxiety, weepy, acne, some hair loss, sleepy; and my symptoms will be worse than before I even got on the steroids. After my “withdrawal” period, my symptoms will adjust to what will be normal for me; and all of the other side effects from steroids will go away. After having been on steroids on average of twice a year over the course of my MS, I’ve learned what to expect and how to ride it out.
  • There are serious side effects to using steroids over a long length of time-like months or even years. These include things such as bone density loss. As always, one needs to weigh the benefits against the positives when taking any drug.

Sometimes, steroids work for a person, and sometimes they don’t. And of course, all people react to a drug differently–both in response to the effectiveness and to the side effects.

All you can do is try. If it works, great; if it doesn’t, well something else will have to be tried to alleviate the problem.

The Drive Duet Transport Chair Rollator Review

My MS has progressed to the point that I don’t go out in public without walking assistance. With Multiple Sclerosis some days I need a walker and others a wheelchair; everyday is an adventure! Some days I can walk at least short distances and others I need to be pushed around! You can imagine my relief when I found The Drive Duet Transport Chair Rollator! Every time I am using my rollator, either by walking or sitting, someone comments!

When I am shopping, I can walk around the store, stop and sit until I’m recharged and strong enough to walk again.

If I’m getting pushed, this transport chair also features a comfortable footrest that folds down when being used as a wheel chair or folds up and out of the way when being used as a walker.

The Drive Duet Transport Chair Rollator is one of the first products to combine a walker and wheel chair into one easy to use mobility device. It only weighs about 19 pounds and is one of the few transport chairs that folds up so it’s easy to get into the trunk or the back seat of the car or fit alongside a bed when not in use.

The Duet features a comfortable, contoured back rest that has two adjustable positions that can be attached to the front or back providing maximum user comfort.

There is also a seat lock on The Duet Transport Chair Rollator that prevents the duet from accidentally folding up when in use or unfolding when being removed from the trunk. The comfortable padded seat even lifts up, providing easy access to the large carrying pouch and so no space is wasted.

The large 8 casters (wheels) provide a smooth ride over any surface whether you are being pushed or using the walker. I have found that when crossing the threshold of doors in public buildings, the ‘driver’ of this wheel chair often needs to back in to get over the bump.

Duet Transport Chair Rollator weighs 19 lbs so it’s not too heavy to lift into the trunk. When the Rollator is open it’s about 25.5 inches wide and 37 inches high.

I have honestly been able to keep my mobility with the convenience of this walker that converts into a wheel chair! I have been able to travel all over the country alone. I fly with airlines who provide assistance to push me to the proper gate, where I can walk around until departure time. When I’m ready to board the plane I turn the walker around, sit, flip the footrest down the handles up and sit comfortably until the assistant is ready to push me to the plane entrance.

Like I said, I don’t get pushed around in public without people commenting! I decided to become an affiliate for The Drive Duet Transport Chair Rollator. When you buy it from my site, MSrelief.com, I’ll receive a small commission for your purchase at no extra cost to you. Knowing the satisfaction you’ll receive from this purchase warms my heart

Find your joy,

Linda

Multiple Sclerosis, Fitness and You

Disclaimer: I am not in any way involved with any of the programs mentioned nor do I sell, benefit financially or in any other way from talking about my experience with them.

So, yes, I am an MS patient and I went through an extreme workout program with amazing results. So can you, no matter what your fitness level is.

I strongly believe that a fitness program that works on all aspects of your fitness (such as strength, balance, flexibility, co-ordination, breathing and cardio) can only be beneficial for you. No matter if you are someone with an impairment or if you are very fit to start with. The added help with nutrition and explanations about it to make it a really complete program is just the sugar on top. Specially since it directly works against the most frustrating aspects an MS patient has to deal with.

Who told MS patients they are not supposed to work out anyway? Who says you can’t do an extreme program? There are 70 year old people doing P90X, people that were over 300 pounds. Obviously people come in all shapes and sizes and with all different kind of conditions. So what makes it hard for an MS patient to try to exercise?

  • Lack of Energy and MS fatigue
  • general muscle weakness
  • stress levels can trigger a relapse
  • specific impairments in movements
  • balance problems
  • overheating

Guess what, all of those I was struggling with myself. The worst being balance, weakness in my arms and legs and MS fatigue and chronic pain in my bladder. Now lets take a look at the average guy interested in fitness:

  • they are quite often complaining about low energy and lack thereof
  • a lot of people ask for help with specific problems such as knee and back issues, having to recover from an accident or operation, have conditions such as IBS or other hard to cure illnesses.
  • Lots of people have to stick to specific diets or are allergic to certain foods
  • People are notoriously inflexible and even quite fit people hardly ever focus on flexibility or do Yoga

Now lets compare: Both groups will have to modify and be careful about their workouts and nutrition. An MS patient has to be specifically careful to not overdo any kind of exercise to not trigger a relapse due to stress. That is the most important difference between the two groups and both are facing the task to adjust any kind of program accordingly.

People with herniated discs, general back problems, knee problems, shoulder problems, all of them have to modify their exercise routine accordingly, much like MS patients.

Which brings me back to my initial point: You can use any program even something extreme and adjust it to your level and needs. Specially with a program which is very complete and incorporates every single aspect that is helpful for an MS patient. Moderation and listening to your body is the key. If you are in doubt ask your specialist for help and modifications.

Start slow and very carefully. I started with 1kg and 1.5kg weights. Start where you have to and rather too light then too extreme. You can take all the time in the world to work up from there. No one is pushing you and you know what’s comfortable for you and what feels ok. Forget about goals other’s have or what you think the goal of a specific program is. You set your own goals, for yourself.

Now lets talk about these specific issues again and how I tried to tackle them.

Lack of Energy and MS fatigue

I had a huge struggle with these. I felt exhausted, tired, depressed and unmotivated. On top it felt likemy head was stuffed with cotton. My eating habits were really bad and most probably directly linked to the things mentioned before. I didn’t feel like getting up a few minutes earlier to fix breakfast, specially not since I wasn’t hungry. I ate lunch and maybe something for dinner, that was pretty much it. No wonder that on top of my fatigue I also was lacking the base energy to do the simplest tasks because my eating was severely lacking and thus my whole system was slowed down. Not only did I not eat enough I was also lacking a lot of the important nutrients. I wasn’t aware of all of this until I read the nutrition guide that came with one of the programs I bought.

Changing my eating habits and switching to eating 5 times per day was the most important factor to improve my Energy.

General muscle weakness

I had to ask my boyfriend more often then not to open bottles and cans for me. Walking up stairs was very taxing and the thought of playing tennis was demotivating because I didn’t want to risk of feeling how much I lost control over my body.Yet, I started to do muscle training according to the plan. Working all muscles groups alternating throughout the week. First with very light weights but it didn’t take long until we had to go buy some new dumbbells. And I will have to do it again once I am done with my current cardio program.

Stress levels can trigger a relapse

This is a tough one and specially for MS patients the most important one. Moderate yourself and start really, really slow – rather do too little then too much. I didn’t know how far I could go or if I could do it at all when I started. You know your body best – listen to it, carefully.

Additionally, try to reduces all additional stress as much as you can. A relaxed environment is really helpful. Make your workouts and health the most important part in your life (next to your family of course). Don’t plan your workouts around your everyday life and try to squeeze it in somewhere. Organize your day around your workouts and look at them as “me time”.

Specific impairments in movements

Modify, modify, modify. There is no real difference to someone who has knee issues or someone who has an impairment because of MS. Even if you are in a wheel-chair. You can still work on your upper body strength as Cammie very nicely demonstrates in her YouTube videos.

For example, I noticed my knee problems while starting to work out. I substituted exercises which seemed to aggravate the problems with others that seemed to work the same muscle areas but in a different way. I wasn’t able to do some of the exercises at all, so I just waited and worked on other aspects and strength until I felt ready enough to give it at least a try. When I started I did most of the push-ups on my knees and stopped whenever I felt I couldn’t go further.

I listened to my body and in turn I learned more about it then I did ever before. This dedication really pays off. I can’t remember when I had to switch to my knees for push-ups. A pull-up without a chair was something completely out of the question when I started (even with chair it was tough) and now I can do three unassisted pull-ups (with much struggling on the third one). I can only do unassisted ones in reverse chin-ups. Any other variations is still totally out of the question but who cares.:)

Balance problems

Yoga was the most important contributor to how my balance and flexibility improved. It was also the hardest to go through because it was really frustrating at first. However, the harder a workout seems to be the clearer it is that you lack in exact that area and the more you will benefit from trying to push through it. It’s with going through the hardest tasks that we come out with the most improvements.

Overheating

Even though I don’t have that much problems with heat (surprisingly enough), I am using a fan to blow on my during exercising. Working out in an environment that is comfortable for you is really important.

I am not bumping into the side of doorways anymore and I can walk down a stair without any problems or fear of losing my balance. My feet don’t drop any more while walking and I can open bottles and cans on my own again and I am probably fitter then your average “healthy” person out there.

Just know, if I can, you can. If you are someone with an illness or impairment you just really need to take it slow and work your way up very carefully. But it’s possible. I know it is. Honestly, right now I have to look at my MRIs showing my old lesions and pictures from the hospital and also pull out my lumbar puncture results to make sure the diagnosis was not just a freak accident (even though the tri-weekly injections remind me mercilessly).

This will be the first upcoming MRI test where I go because it is time to check and not because I have symptoms that make it necessary to take one.

Completeness of Ayurvedic Treatments in Curing Diseases and Ailments of the Body

If anyone asks what is the use of Ayurveda, you can say that it is an ancient medical treatment culture that exists here from the olden days. It has no side effects since all the medicines used are natural herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Unlike allopathic medicines used in western medicines, there are no side effects in Ayurvedic medicine. You can continue to have Ayurvedic medicines for a long time. This is not the case with the western medicine where you see toxins build up after two weeks of use.

High qualifications of the Ayurvedic practitioners

Ayurvedic doctors are full-fledged doctors who study for five-and-a-half years medicine and surgery. They undergo internship and study the Ayurvedic parallels in medical treatment alongside the study of anatomy, physiology, internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry, toxicology, and more. The treatment deals with holistic healing or invoking the ability of the body to heal itself. This method of treating ailments gives us a better and more long-lasting cure. If you have any ailments you can get treated at the Ayurvedic Clinic. They have many Ayurvedic practitioners, so you can pick one who is most reputable to take treatment.

Panchakarma treatment in Ayurveda

One of the more famous treatments is the Panchakarma treatment. This means “four actions” and it concentrates on the removal of toxins and improving the lifestyle and nutrition levels. Here are the four steps discussed in detail.

Vamana: This is the vomiting therapy or induced emesis done to remove the congestions in the chest. It cleans the toxins collected in the body and purifies the gastrointestinal tract. This includes ailments such as chronic indigestion, bronchial asthma, skin disorders, and more.

Virechan: This purgation therapy aims to help purify the entire body. This treatment is most suited for those with pitta dosha. These ailments include gynecological disorders, skin ailments, headache, asthma, and so on.

Nasyam: Here the uptake of medicine is through the nasal passage as this is most suited for us. This helps remove accumulated kapha toxins from the head and neck. Here you send medicated oils and herbal juices through the nostrils of the patient. You can have Panchkarma Treatments from any recognized Ayurvedic practitioner. This treatment is effective for facial paralysis, insomnia, sinusitis, and more.

Vashti: This therapy uses the medicated enema to clean the toxins caused by vata in the colon. You can treat ailments such as digestive disorders, intestinal cleaning, asthma, IBS, sexual debility, skin ailments, and so on.

Use of other Panchkarma treatments

Other panchakarma therapies include Podikizhi, Abhyangam, Pizhichil, Elakizhi, Shiro Dhara, and navarakizhi, and more. It involves the use of fresh leaves, herbal oils, fruit juices, and medicated oil to produce relaxation and rejuvenation for the patient. You must do this in a proper manner to get the best effect. They also use massages to help burn superficial fat, improve blood circulation, and reduce obesity. You can even cure greying and thinning of hair by practices such as Shiro Dhara.

The Ayurvedic processes have undergone continuous evaluation and improvement over time. Due to the continuous learning and the change in the lifestyle of the people, this becomes inevitable and keeps the technology up to date all the time.