A man holds a piece of paper in front of himself with the picture of a brain. Behind him other medical papers are swirling requesting attention but being ignored.

Neglecting Other Health Problems Because of MS

Last updated: January 2021

As unfair as it may seem, there are many people who live with a chronic illness, like MS, who also have a host of other issues. Hearing of someone suffering from multiple chronic illnesses or other health problems is not unheard of and is actually quite common (I actually have more than one issue myself). Recognizing that you have issues other than your primary illness can be difficult though.

When we focus too much on our chronic illness

When one already lives with an incurable and chronic condition, it’s easy to think of other health issues as not being that important. Not focusing on other areas of our health can be a recipe for disaster though, so it’s important to realize that your chronic illness may be preventing you from getting yourself the care you need.

White coats everywhere

I confess, this is absolutely one of those “do as I say not as I do” type of articles. I am 100% the type of person that neglects other potential health issues. I already see my neurologist at least once a year (along with all the yearly tests like MRIs and blood tests to make sure I’m still JC negative). I also go to the hospital once a month for my Tysabri infusions. So, I’m not someone who really wants to go to another doctor unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Overlooking general health appointments

That’s led me to overlook some basic health appointments I should be making (and face it, as we get older, those appointments become more and more important). I’ve gone long stretches without seeing a general practitioner and having a yearly physical. I also had a period of time where I would import my contact lenses from England because I didn’t want to be bothered with going to the eye doctor and getting a new prescription. I’m also ashamed to say that I’m not sure when the last time was that I went to a dentist.

Don’t I have enough problems?

It’s not just the frequency of seeing medical professionals that makes me overlook other health issues though. I live with MS and I am considered disabled because of it. My illness affects me on a daily basis. Not every day is horrible, but some certainly are. Pain, fatigue, numbness, cognitive issues, etc. The list of symptoms is long. So, in my case, living with MS isn’t a picnic. With my disease having such an impact, it’s hard for me to get concerned about things like my blood pressure, or cholesterol, or whether my contacts have the most up to date prescription. Even with my teeth, I brush them and use mouthwash regularly and they aren’t hurting me. MS causes me pain on most days, so that always “wins” when it comes to my attention. I have enough issues from my illness to deal with every day; I don’t have time for anything else.

Those other things are important though

I’ve realized that the rest of my health is important though. If we neglect our overall health, that will eventually catch up and make our MS worse. I always consider it a good idea to do whatever I can to prevent my immune system from getting really active. After all, that’s what’s causing those lesions.

Other illnesses can lead to MS exacerbations

When I have encountered other illnesses and infections, I’ve often had an MS exacerbation sometime afterwards. I’ve been trying to keep that in mind in an effort to be on top of all of those maintenance type problems that can occur. So, in the past year, I’ve seen a doctor about my blood pressure, I’ve had a proper physical, and I’ve even seen an eye doctor (and can now get my contact from a seller in the US again!). I confess that I haven’t gotten to the dentist yet, but I’m working on it! I’ve started to look at my overall health and realize the potential it could have on my disease and that’s what’s gotten me motivated.

Do any of you ever experience these problems? Neglecting other health issues or appointments because of your MS? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!


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