Getting on a disease-modifying drug

Well, we have all heard it... why is it "so important" so start a medication once you've been diagnosed with MS?

First off, it's already a difficult time in your life, dealing with being diagnosed, then you have to make all these decisions about your future with your health. How are you supposed to make a decision on a medication? And why are they so important to begin with, if it doesn't "stop" anything?

I went through all of that when I was diagnosed! I was diagnosed when I was 22; I had NO idea what MS was, so everything I was going through was a lot to take in... I think it also depends on your neuro, on how you handle your diagnosis and choosing a medication. When I was diagnosed, it wasn't by a specialist for MS, or anything like that. I was told I had MS, given a general description of what MS is, then handed a packet to start a medication. (No, I wasn't given a choice on what medication to take.)

It's well known that "the sooner you start a medication, the better"... but why is that? I've been told by MANY neurologists that specialize in MS, that you have a better chance of slowing the progression... where as, those who were diagnosed with MS when there was no medication available, those are the patients who are more disabled than others. So really the question is, Why wouldn't you get on a medication?

There are so many options out there now for those with MS. It just depends on the individual on what medication you take. A lot of people choose medications by the "convenience" of how to take the medication... but I think this is a decision that needs to be discussed with your health care team, VERY thoroughly. Because, it's not something for you to choose based on "how" you take the medication, but how it works... the percentage of relapse reduction... how it will fit in to your lifestyle, etc.

That's a lot to think about, I know... but why wouldn't you want to be VERY thorough when it comes to your health and your future concerning your mobility... As patients, we need to take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves the best we can... you don't want to fully depend on others to make the decision for you... based on just their knowledge on each medication. The more you learn about the medications, the better prepared you are to make a decision and ask any questions you need to with your health care team.

I know that it seems like a lot to go through... but personally, I like to think that I'm doing everything that I can do to make sure that I can live my life the way I want to.

And you also need to keep in mind, that not one medication works for everyone with MS. Yes, we all have MS... but every individual is different with it. I've been on Avonex, Tysabri; Copaxone... now I'm going through the process to start Tecfidera (BG-12)... Not all of those medications "failed" me so to say, but I didn't tolerate them well when it came to side-effects.

That just goes to show how many factors come in to play when taking a DMD... While it's important to be on a medication after being diagnosed, it's also not a decision that can be made quickly...

My advice... do your research, talk to your health care team, ask as many questions as you want to... compile all that information, and then look into making a decision.



Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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