Multiple sclerosis (MS) and well-being: how to adapt your daily life to the disease

Published 24 Jan 2023 • By Candice Salomé

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system. It is the second leading cause of acquired disability in young adults after trauma. It affects 130,000 people in the UK with 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

The various symptoms and disabilities that develop will interfere with the patient's daily life, feelings and family life. Certain measures can be taken to facilitate the patient's daily life.

But how can you manage your daily life with multiple sclerosis? What habits should be incorporated into your daily life?

We explain it all in our article!

Multiple sclerosis (MS) and well-being: how to adapt your daily life to the disease

Living better with multiple sclerosis (MS) means managing the disease better in your daily life. Healthy eating and exercise can also provide the energy needed to live well with the disease. Find all our tips below!

Love life and multiple sclerosis 

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) can change your life and that of your partner. Fatigue sets in, daily activities that used to be natural and effortless, become more complex. All this can be difficult for your partner to understand. It is therefore important to talk to him/her in all transparency about your feelings and your needs.

Multiple sclerosis and physical handicaps that may come with it are all new challenges that your couple will have to overcome.

Your partner may find it difficult to assess your needs and react accordingly. It is therefore essential to talk to each other. He or she must also feel that he or she is being listened to, because each new situation is a source of questions, doubts and fears.

Sex life and multiple sclerosis 

The disease and its symptoms can have an impact on your sex life. Erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness or a low libido may interfere with the sex life of the couple.

Nerve damage can result in sensory disturbances in the spinal cord and this can reduce the desire for physical contact. Urinary disorders, chronic fatigue, spasticity, or aches and pains can also reduce desire.

However, patients with MS (multiple sclerosis) can also have a fulfilling sex life with targeted treatment for their symptoms.

The situation can sometimes be improved with simple solutions. For example, couple therapy can be of great help if sexual problems are of psychological origin (e.g. fear of not being able to meet the expectations of one's partner).

Family life and multiple sclerosis 

The disease has to be accepted by the patient before he or she can discuss it with his or her family. But this is an important step: if you don't talk about it, your family may misinterpret this lack of information.

Not talking about it means continuing to control everything to hide the signs of the disease. It is essential to talk about MS as soon as the patient feels ready to answer questions from family and friends.

The disease has an impact on the whole family. Physical and/or cognitive deficits are added to the challenges already present in the daily life of a family. The family has to get involved and this requires a lot of flexibility and organisational skills.

Who will be able to do the housework and the shopping? Who will look after the children? Who will help the healthy parent?

If possible, family, friends and neighbours should all be involved and, most importantly, they should be informed about the disease. A better knowledge of multiple sclerosis (MS) will facilitate the adaptation to all these new situations.

Sport and multiple sclerosis 

Physical activity is recommended for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). It helps to maintain muscle tone, improve balance, increase the ability to cope with exercise, reduce fatigue and promote a sense of well-being.

Twenty years ago, specialists recommended that multiple sclerosis patients should not engage in sport. However, these recommendations have changed since then.

Regular physical activity or intense effort is not dangerous for patients and does not entail the risk of relapses.

When intense effort is made, this may result in fatigue, but this is not because of the multiple sclerosis but because of the effort itself. Some MS patients, whether disabled or not, practice high-level sports.

However, it is true that MS patients get tired more quickly when they have to make an effort, even if it is just walking. Functional MRI scans have shown that MS patients have to use more brain power than healthy people to produce the same physical effort.

However, patients can learn to "spare themselves" so that they do not become unnecessarily tired, and it is possible to combat this tiredness through re-training.

You have to be motivated, but it can be done! It has been found that the recovery time for athletes with multiple sclerosis is no longer than for healthy athletes!

It is therefore essential to move more: either by gently increasing the level of physical activity through walking, gardening or cycling, or by practising a sport.

Nutrition and multiple sclerosis 

To date, no specific diet has been able to provide scientific proof of any effectiveness in preventing multiple sclerosis, nor of any benefit in slowing the progression of the disease. Thus, there are no rules as to foods that should be avoided or consumed in bigger quantities.

But it is very important to:

  • Combat overweight. It makes it more difficult to move around and can lead to back and joint pain,
  • Reduce the inflammatory process by eating good fats and reducing sugar intake.

In addition, taking corticosteroids may require a reduction in salt intake. Thus, it is recommended to:

  • Avoid particularly salty foods such as cold meats, certain cheeses, crackers, etc. and some types of mineral water,
  • Avoid salting your food at the table and reduce the amount of salt used in cooking water,
  • Carefully check the ingredients of ready-made meals which are generally rich in salt.

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avatar Candice Salomé

Author: Candice Salomé, Health Writer

Candice is a content creator at Carenity and specialises in writing health articles. She has a particular interest in the fields of women's health, well-being and sport. 

Candice holds a master's degree in... >> Learn more


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