Multiple sclerosis is still incurable. However, certain lifestyle modifications and a variety of multiple sclerosis drug are effective in controlling the condition. By having an open line of communication with your primary physician, you can determine the most appropriate and efficacious treatment plan with the mildest side effects.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis Drug Options
DMARDs (Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs)
If your multiple sclerosis is a case of relapsing-remitting MS and you are experiencing severe symptoms, your physician may first place you on a disease-modifying medication. These drugs work by impeding the progression of MS and stopping relapses.
This multiple sclerosis drug essentially restrains the immune system. This prevents it from striking against the protective sheath around the nerves, known as myelin. Most of these medications are intravenous and can cause skin reactions on injection sites.
Beta interferons are usually the most commonly preferred multiple sclerosis drug class. They work by lessening the severity and frequency of relapses. These drugs can cause flu-like side effects, such as body pain, lethargy, and fever accompanied by chills. Although these are usually only temporary.
They also minimally increase the risk of infections as they reduce the white blood cell count. White blood cells in the immune system are responsible for warding off diseases. The most common beta interferons are Betaseron, Avonex, Glatiramer, Rebif, Extavia, and Plegridy. Primarily, these medications work by hindering the immune system response that destroys myelin.
Additional Oral Medications for Multiple Sclerosis
Dimethyl Fumarate. This is an oral twice-daily multiple sclerosis drug that suppresses your immune cells. It requires your doctor keeping a close watch on your condition using blood tests.
Fingolimod. This is also an oral medication that is taken once daily. Those who have never had chickenpox need to be immunized prior to beginning treatment.
Teriflunomide. This is a once-daily oral multiple sclerosis drug that can cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss. Your doctor also needs to monitor your liver function while you are on teriflunomide as this drug may cause liver issues.
Natalizumab. Reserved for patients who have not been responsive to any other therapies. Natalizumab works by stopping immune cells from reaching the brain and spinal cord to protect nerves.
Ocrelizumab. Similar to natalizumab, ocrelizumab is usually a last resort multiple sclerosis drug that destroys particular B cells and prevents the immune system from damaging the body.
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