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What is an MS relapse?

It's not uncommon for people with MS to experience new symptoms, or feel that their old symptoms are getting worse. When this happens it is called a relapse.

Relapses are also called flare-ups, flares, attacks, or exacerbations. They are caused by inflammation in the central nervous system, which causes demyelination. Demyelination slows the transmission of nerve impulses, which provokes the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

A multiple sclerosis relapse is the rapid onset of new, or worsening of previous, symptoms that last at least 24 hours. Some people endure them for days, weeks or even months. To be considered new, a relapse must be separated from the previous one by at least 30 days.

Causes of an MS Relapse

Multiple sclerosis relapses have a number of possible causes. Relapses are unpredictable and mostly occur without warning. They may be more common after a viral or upper respiratory infection. They may also occur slightly more often in women in the three months after pregnancy.

Relapses can interfere with your daily life. Staying on track with your MS medication can help reduce the frequency of future relapses.

Since people who are on a consistent MS treatment program may have fewer relapses than those who aren't, it's important to find the most effective MS medication for you.

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