When is the best time to start MS treatment? Based on what we know now, the sooner the better!
MS experts are now recommending that MS treatment be considered as soon as possible after a person is diagnosed with MS. Treatment may also be considered for people who have had only one attack, but are at high risk of developing MS.
This is because MS can start causing irreversible damage to the brain and nerves very early in the course of the disease. Often this damage is silent - you can't see or feel it. But it's still there, even people in who are not having any symptoms of MS. Doctors can view this damage by looking at your MRI (magnetic resonance imaging, a machine that gives doctors a picture of your brain).
The silent damage that MS can cause has been linked to the more visible effects of MS, such as the progression of disability. Fortunately, early treatment can help fight both the invisible and visible parts of MS. A group of medications called disease-modifying medications can reduce the frequency of relapses, slow the progression of disability, and reduce the number and volume of active brain lesions (areas of damage caused by MS). To learn more about these medications, see "What are my options for treating MS?"
If you've had a single attack, but are at high risk of developing MS, certain medications, such as once-weekly interferon beta-1a (Avonex® PS), interferon beta-1b (Betaseron®, Extavia®), or glatiramer (Copaxone®) can reduce your risk of developing MS. Talk to your doctor to find out more about whether this could be an option for you.
Starting medication treatment for MS is a personal decision. Your doctor can help you learn more about the benefits and risks of treatment, and can assist you in deciding when to start treatment. Speak to your doctor for more information.
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