Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an illness that, while not curable, may go into remission. This means that a patient will have no symptoms or issues pertaining to the disease for weeks, months, or even years. Relapsing multiple sclerosis is a situation in which a case of MS that was in remission suddenly begins causing problematic symptoms again. One patient may go through several cycles of remission and relapse over the course of months or years.
It is not entirely understood why some patients have relapsing multiple sclerosis while others never enter remission. More rarely, patients may go into remission and remain symptom-free for up to several decades. There is some indication that lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, may have something to do with which patients go into remission and which ones do not. It may also be because some patients have better access to medical care than others.
Sometimes relapsing multiple sclerosis may begin as the initial symptoms did prior to diagnosis. This usually involves mild to moderate symptoms which progressively worsen. Other patients who relapse experience markedly worse symptoms than before they entered remission. This may require more aggressive treatments than were used during the initial episode.
There is no known way to enter remission and there is generally no sure fire way to prevent relapsing multiple sclerosis. Maintaining physical activity and eating a diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins is a good start. Taking all prescribed medications as directed each day is also a good idea. It is very important for patients to remain under a doctor's care for periodic evaluation, even while in remission.
Patients who believe they are experiencing relapsing multiple sclerosis should consult their doctor immediately. Just as with an initial diagnosis, early treatment after a relapse generally yields better results. Occasionally, a patient will be in remission without knowing he or she has MS. Early symptoms can be very subtle, and if they subside before they become troublesome, a diagnose may never be made.
There are also cases of MS where the patient will show no symptoms of the disease and appear to be in remission, but clinical tests still show that the condition is present and causing changes internally. This may explain why symptoms during a relapse are often more severe than before the disease entered remission. Continuing with regular treatments during a these periods of remission may help prevent some internal damage from occurring.