Understanding pseudo-relapses in Multiple Sclerosis
Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm
Information provided to me by Michael Myette
MS LifeLines ®eNewsletter
Have you ever been out in the garden or enjoying a barbecue and suddenly experienced a brief episode of muscle weakness or blurred vision? While these symptoms may cause you to fear the onset of an MS relapse, you may very well be experiencing a pseudo-relapse instead.
What is the difference between a relapse and a pseudo-relapse?
A relapse is an actual worsening of your MS. It can include the aggravation of an old MS symptom or the onset of a new one. A relapse lasts at least 24 hours in the absence of an infection or fever. In contrast, a pseudo-relapse is not a worsening of the disease—it's the temporary flare-up of symptoms that have occurred before. And, episodes come and go very quickly, typically within 24 hours.
The heat factor
Heat is the most common cause of a pseudo-relapse. It can be heat from the sun, strenuous exercise, a fever or infection, or even a hot shower—almost anything that raises body temperature. Because heat is so often a factor in pseudo-relapses, you should try and cool down. Move to a cooler location or have a cold drink. This may help you feel more comfortable. If you are experiencing a pseudo-relapse, symptoms will usually disappear once your body cools off.
However, you should always call your doctor right away if you have any concerns or questions.
The information contained in this newsletter is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your condition.
Sources: Summer Sizzle. How heat can affect MS Ask the Expert: Jo Scanzillo MS LifeLines Magazine, Summer 2007