4. No smoking or tobacco products. Research shows that smokers have a higher risk of autoimmune conditions, including MS. And smokers with MS have more flare-ups and disability. “If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit,” Dr. Rensel says. “Pharmacologic aids like nicotine patches and gum, when added to behavioral programs like quit groups, can improve success rates.”
5. Routine mental health screening. Depression is more common in people with MS. And it can worsen fatigue and cognitive function. One study directly links psychological stress to new MS brain lesions. “Screening and managing psychological conditions, including connecting patients with a mental health professional when needed, improve quality of life and MS outcomes,” Dr. Rensel says.
People with MS should see their primary care provider regularly, in addition to their neurologist, she says.
“PCPs are valuable partners in helping MS patients with these wellness recommendations,” she says.