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Most Likely Causes of MS Relapses

January 22, 2016

Everyone who has been diagnosed with MS spends time looking over their shoulder waiting for the disease to rear its ugly head. When that happens it is referred to as a relapse or a “flare up”.

A relapse or flare-up of multiple sclerosis is considered to be the appearance of a new symptom or worsening of an old symptom that lasts over 24 hours, and is not considered to be directly related to another infection in the body. Here are the most common causes of an MS relapse:

Infection- When the body is fighting off an infection, this can increase an additional immune response, which can trigger MS symptoms. More specifically, urinary tract infections are very common in MS patients and can cause a flare up.

Postpartum Period- Medications for MS are not recommended to be taken while breastfeeding this obviously leaves a patient at risk for a relapse. However there has been evidence that breastfeeding exclusively during the first trimester after giving birth can decrease exacerbations during that time.

Vaccinations- While it is recommended that MS patients have vaccinations to avoid developing infections, live virus vaccines such as the flu shot should be avoided.

Heat- This one is well-known. An increase in body heat has been found to be a popular trigger for an MS flare up. MS symptoms such as tingling have been found to be worse in the summer. It is important for MS patients to be able to escape the heat by taking cool showers or spending time in air-conditioned areas.

Stress/Fatigue- Stress is well-known as a trigger for a relapse and fatigue can often go hand in hand with that. Sleeping can be easier said than done, but stress is something you can limit. Surround yourself with a good support system and avoid social situations that you know will make you feel uneasy.