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About Multiple Sclerosis
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Tips for living with MS

MS can affect different areas of your life and may change how you do various activities. If you sometimes feel overwhelmed with how MS is affecting your life – or are considering giving up an activity that you love to do – these tips may stir your own imagination to find new approaches to living with MS.

The following links will take you to some solutions and tips that people have used to help them cope with the challenges of day-to-day living with MS:

» Camp for Children and Teens with MS

» 10 Tips to beat the heat

» Eating well for healthy living - Examining the role of supplements

» Safety around the home

» Summer heat: How to find relief

Summer is a mixed blessing for people with MS. While it is great to be rid of endless rain and snow, summer also means heat, and that can make MS symptoms worse for may who have multiple sclerosis.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to stay cool.

Air conditioning at home may be the best answer. The cost of air conditioning became a medical expense for Income Tax purposes in 1995. Following a favourable judgement in a court case supported by the MS Society, the federal government made air conditioning tax deductible if prescribed by a physician. You can claim 50% of the cost, up to $1,000.

Some divisions and local chapters can help with the cost of air conditioners through special assistance programs. Contact your division office at 1 800 268-7582 to find out if help is available.

Sometimes simple things can help such as:

  • Dress lightly, eat cool foods and drink cool fluids.
  • If an air conditioner isn't available, use a fan. A fan near an open window away from the sun will help in circulating cooler air.
  • Cool baths or showers are refreshing; be sure hand rails and other supports are installed in the tub for safety.
  • Try "cool clothing" -- these are products such as scarves, hats and vests that contain substances that can hold either cold or heat depending upon your need. Various kinds are available at pharmacies or at some department stores.
  • Do your exercise in the pool (make sure it's not overly heated) so you can stay both fit and cool.

(Adapted from MS Canada, August 1999)

» Tax tips: Medical expense tax credit for procedures and services received outside of Canada

» Travel tips

Be prepared for increased security when flying

The summer months often mean travel time at home or abroad. If you are flying, make sure you follow the motto "be prepared" before you head for the airport because of increased security requirements.

If you will be travelling with injectible medications within Canada you should have a letter from your doctor describing the medications and medical devices that you require. It is also a good idea to keep all medications in their original packaging showing the prescription label.

The bag you use for medical supplies or assistive devices usually is not counted in the limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag (purse or briefcase). It is a good idea to clarify the policy of the airline you are using at the time you book your ticket.

Requirements for the U.S. are more stringent. Doctors' letters and written prescriptions are not accepted because of forgery concerns. Instead, all medications must be in their original packaging with a professional, pharmaceutical pre-printed label that clearly identifies the medication.

In addition, when you book your flight, make the airline aware of devices you use (leg braces, walker or wheelchair) or assistance that you will need to board and leave the plane and during the flight.

You should expect to be screened carefully, possibly with the use of a hand-held medical detector, especially if you use a wheelchair and can't stand up. Assistive devices that you need on board will also be examined.

With a little preparation, you should have a safe and enjoyable flight. Bon voyage!

» Travel safety

Whether you're planning a trip, visiting family or taking a walk around your neighbourhood, ensure your health is always protected. According to health experts, the biggest threat to health while travelling is not a rare disease from an exotic destination, but a flare-up of an existing medical condition.

  • Before you leave, schedule a visit to your physician. Be sure to obtain all the medical care, prescriptions and documentation you need. If you are planning a trip to an exotic destination, receive any necessary vaccinations.
  • Plan for enough medication to cover 1 week longer than you expect to be gone.
  • Keep all medications in their original package.
  • Wear a MedicAlert (or similar) ID bracelet. During a medical emergency, it is important that first responders and other health professionals are alerted to any pre-existing conditions. If you are unable to speak, a MedicAlert bracelet or necklet can speak for you, notifying health care personnel or other bystanders of your condition, and any medication you are taking. One call to its 24-hour emergency hotline, available worldwide in 140 languages, gives healthcare professionals access to your medical profile and personal contacts.

Emergency Medical Information Services

Canadian MedicAlert Foundation
301 - 250 Ferrand Drive
Toronto, Ontario M3C 3G8
800-668-1507 (toll free)

UMED - Universal Medical History & Information Inc.
105 - 2200 Lakeshore Boulevard West
Toronto, Ontario M8V 1A4

(Adapted from Sharing, the official journal of Epilepsy Ontario Vol. 16, No. 2, Summer 2000: www.epilepsyontario.org )

» Tips for family and friends

Multiple sclerosis affects not just the person with MS but also family and friends. The MS Society of Canada has resources to help families and loved ones understand what MS is, how it affects the person with the disease, and how to cope with the changes or pressures a chronic disease can have on relationships. Visit our Support & Services section for more information.

Also visit MS symptoms and how to manage them, and our resource library for additional information.



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