When it comes to living with a chronic, debilitating disease, choosing the right treatment is one of the most important decisions you will make. In multiple sclerosis (MS), this is especially true, as symptoms are progressive and can have serious implications on quality of life; including extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.
Dr. Marcelo Kremenchutzky, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in London, Ontario, says patients have many factors to think about when selecting a treatment with their doctor.
“Some patients are most interested in the amount of historical data they can read about the treatment’s safety and potential side effects, while other patients want a treatment that offers flexibility, because they don’t want their life to revolve around taking treatment at a certain time every day.”
There are many factors for people living with MS to think about when selecting their treatment. Here are a few things to consider:
• How soon should I start treatment for MS?
• How will this medication affect my lifestyle?
• How often will I have to take my medication?
• How long has this treatment been available?
• What side effects am I most likely to have?
• Which side effects are the hardest to cope with?
• Are there any factors that might make it difficult for me to stay on the medication?
“The great news is that today, patients and their doctors have options to explore,” says Dr. Kremenchutzky. “Newer treatments, like Plegridy which has a once-every-two-week dosing schedule, can offer patients more choice when it comes to managing MS symptoms, which can be incredibly taxing for many people.”
Why not ‘wait and see’?
Despite the increase in treatment options, the unpredictability of MS and the appearance of symptoms, many patients choose to postpone treatment.
However, the reality is, the longer MS progresses, the more chance there is for irreversible damage to occur, and currently there are no treatments to help people regain what they have already lost.
“Treating MS early and aggressively may reduce disease activity, slow disease progression and impact the development of disability,” says Dr. Kremenchutzky.
Patients are encouraged to speak with their doctor about these questions to find a treatment that works best for them, so they can live the life they choose, and not one dictated for them by their disease.