Make it easier to take your MS medication

Today there are more options than ever for treating multiple sclerosis and its symptoms. And research is showing that many of these treatments can be highly effective. So if, like many others with MS, you are committed to staying healthy and active, these tips can help you stick to your goals.

Lifestyle interruptions

Sometimes it may seem inconvenient to add medication therapy to your lifestyle. Or you may avoid medication because you don't like being reminded that you have MS. Here are ways you can keep the interruptions to a minimum.

  • If your medication is supposed to be taken only a certain number of times per week, pick a day and time and stick with it.
  • Try a medication that comes in pre-filled injectors. The doses are already measured out and syringes don't need to be prepared. It leaves less for you to have to worry about.
  • See if taking a medication by mouth (orally) is appropriate for you.
  • Medications vary in how frequently they need to be taken and whether or not they need refrigeration for storage. Talk to your doctor about the medication that best suits your lifestyle.
  • Remind yourself that with every injection you are trying to slow down disability and maintain your ability. This may help you think of the medication as a help, not a hassle.

Lack of support

Support from those around us can sometimes make the difference between feeling alone and feeling motivated to take medication. Here are some sources of support to turn to that may help you:

  • family members
  • your health care provider
  • an agency serving people with MS
  • online support or brochures offered by the manufacturer of your medication
  • a nurse or peer mentor program

Side effects

Like all medications, drugs designed to slow down your MS can have side effects. Some of these side effects can be uncomfortable. But there are ways to ease the discomfort.

  • If you're experiencing fatigue, fever, and chills after taking an injection, take heart in knowing that this reaction usually eases up once your body gets used to the medication.
  • In the meantime, your doctor may suggest you take acetaminophen and ibuprofen before and after the injection to control pain and fever.
  • You can also try taking the medication before bed, so you're sleeping instead of experiencing side effects.

Injection pain

If you're taking your medication by injection, you may experience swelling, redness, and irritation at the injection site. These strategies may help:

  • Make sure you're always cleaning your skin properly beforehand, and wash your hands well before giving yourself an injection. Always wait a week before using the same injection site.
  • Massage the area gently for a couple of minutes after the injection. This may help reduce irritation.
  • Some people report that covering the area with a warm cloth afterwards helps with the discomfort. If this doesn't work for you, try applying an ice pack right before and after the injection.
  • Check with your health care provider to make sure you're using the right injection technique. The manufacturer of your medication may offer brochures, training sessions, or training videos to provide more information.

Injection anxiety

Some people just don't feel comfortable giving themselves injections. A lot of people don't like to see or think about needles, and others say they're bothered by the length and thickness of needles. A variety of autoinjector products on the market offer features that can lessen injection anxiety and make it easier for you to take medication. Autoinjectors can provide the following features:

  • automatic injection just by pressing a button so you don't have the sense of giving yourself a needle
  • a needle that's hidden before, during, and after the injection process so you never have to see a needle
  • thinner needles, which cause less pain and bruising
  • adjustable needle depth to make injections more comfortable according to people's needs and preferences
  • no need to mix or carry multiple doses when traveling
  • a memory log to help you keep track of the date and time of your injections
  • easy-to-understand on-screen instructions to help guide you through the injection

Talk to your doctor about the medication, products, and injection techniques that are right for you. It may be just what you need to get on with the rest of your life.

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