Five Sometimes it’s not the medication that needs

Five Steps to Take If You’re Unhappy with Your Current MS Treatment  Written by Nancy Lovering   While multiple sclerosis has no cure, there are many treatments that can slow the disease progression, control flare-ups and manage symptoms. Some people are happy with their current treatment, while others are not and want to try something else.   There are many reasons to consider changing treatments. Your current medication might have side effects that bother you, or it may no longer seem to be as effective as it was. You might be having challenges taking your medication, such as missing doses or struggling with the injection process.   Fortunately, there is a variety of treatment options available for MS, so if you are unhappy with your current situation, there are steps you can take to change it.   1.  Assess the effectiveness of your current treatment You might want to switch treatments because you’re not sure if the one you’re currently on is working. Ask your doctor how you can tell if your medication is effective.   Don’t stop taking your medication, or change your dose, without talking to your doctor first.  Medication can be doing what it should even if your symptoms seem to be the same. This is because the medication is preventing new symptoms from developing as it controls inflammation.  It may be that your current symptoms simply aren’t reversible and your treatment is aimed instead at preventing your condition from progressing.  Sometimes it’s not the medication that needs changing but the dose. Ask your doctor if your current dose should be increased. Also, make sure that you’ve been taking your medication as prescribed. If you still think that your current treatment isn’t working, make sure that you’ve given it enough time.  Medication can take between six months and one year to take effect. If you’ve been on your current treatment for less time, your doctor may recommend that you wait before considering a change.   2.  Be specific about what you want to change Whatever your reason for wanting to switch, it’s up to you to be clear about what you can tolerate and what you can’t. Maybe the medication you’re on makes you moody, or requires regular liver function tests. Perhaps even though you’ve received training to self-inject your MS medication, you might still dread the task and want to switch to an oral alternative.  Specific treatment feedback can help your doctor recommend another option more suitable for you.  3.  Make note of lifestyle changes Changes to your daily life can sometimes affect your treatment. Tell your doctor about anything that’s different, such as your diet, activity level or sleeping patterns.  Dietary factors such as salt, animal fat, sugar, low fiber, red meat and fried food are linked to increased inflammation which can make MS symptoms worse. If you think you’re having a relapse it might be because of a lifestyle factor and not because your medication has stopped working.  Update your doctor about any changes that could be affecting your treatment so that together you can make an informed decision. 4.  Ask for a current assessment Increased lesions on an MRI and poorer outcomes from a neurologic exam are two signs that a treatment change might be in order. Ask your doctor if you can have current testing done to see if you should switch medications.  5.  S.E.A.R.C.H. The acronym S.E.A.R.C.H. acts as a guide for choosing the best MS treatment based on the following factors: Safety Effectiveness Access Risks Convenience Health outcomes The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America provides S.E.A.R.C.H. materials to help you determine the best MS treatment for you. Consider each of these factors and discuss them with your doctor.  The Takeaway There are multiple treatment options available for MS. Keep taking your medication, and don’t change your dose, until you talk to your doctor. If you want to change your current treatment, be clear about why so that your doctor can help you choose another treatment that’s a better fit for you. Sometimes treatments are working as intended even if you don’t notice any changes, so check with your doctor to see if this is true in your case before switching medication.