The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
With MS, medications are given to suppress the immune system and control symptoms. Medications only help in managing the condition and some slow the disease process. They do not cure MS.
Corticosteroids are used to reduce nerve tissue inflammation and shorten MS flare-ups. How these drugs work is not fully understood. These drugs are usually given short term. Do not suddenly stop taking these medications. Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions for tapering the dose or alternating the days you use them.
Beta interferon is an anti-viral agent used to suppress the immune system. It may help inhibit a substance involved in flare-ups of the disease. The drug seems to decrease the number of flare-ups and slow progression of physical disabilities. It may limit destruction of the myelin sheath. Beta interferon is given by injection.
These immunosuppressive drugs may be given to try to prevent a relapse or progression of MS. These drugs may produce serious side effects. Some of these are used by MS specialists, but are not FDA approved for treating MS.
Possible side effects include:
Nausea and vomiting
Increased risk of infection
Kidney and liver damage
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) can be seen with Natalizumab use. PML is a potentially fatal viral infection of the brain.
A GABA-B agonist is used to control muscle spasticity. This drug may be taken by mouth or injected into the spinal canal. The benefits are usually short lived. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Anticonvulsants are used to control tremors and seizure activity. They also may be ordered to treat nerve pain. In addition, gabapentin may be given to treat spasticity as well as unusual sensations that occur in some MS patients. You should not stop taking these drugs without consulting your doctor.
Benzodiazepines relax the muscles and are used to control nighttime muscle spasms and spasticity in patients who cannot tolerate other drugs used to treat this symptom. Clonazepam can also help control tremors. Do not stop these drugs without consulting with your doctor.
Desmopressin helps relieve frequent urination during the night that has not responded to other treatment. It produces more concentrated urine. It can decrease sodium levels, so periodic blood tests may be ordered. This drug is a nasal spray used at bedtime.
Antidepressants may be ordered to combat depression associated with MS. Some antidepressant drugs are also given to people with chronic pain for their pain-relieving abilities. They may improve your pain threshold and help you sleep. Antidepressants are not addictive.
Do not stop taking these drugs without checking with your doctor. Do not take an antidepressant if you have taken a MAO inhibitor in recent weeks (during or within 14 days of MAO therapy).
Acetaminophen relieves minor pain. It does not prevent future headaches or treat the cause of the headache. It can cause liver problems if taken with alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking this drug. Do not take more than the recommended dose. Acetaminophen is unlikely to cause side effects (stomach upset, bleeding ulcers) associated with other pain medications.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
Take them as directed—not more, not less, not at a different time.
Do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.
Don’t share them with anyone else.
Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your doctor.
If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.
Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if new symptoms develop.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a