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Multiple Sclerosis and Coronavirus
March 30, 2020

3 Things to Know About Multiple Sclerosis and COVID-19

by Barbara Giesser

For anyone with a chronic medical condition, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic can raise particular concerns. Here are some frequently asked questions from people with Multiple Sclerosis.

1. What’s the relationship between MS and COVID-19?

Having Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in and of itself does not confer a greater risk of getting COVID-19. However, if a person with MS contracts any infection or a fever, it can exacerbate their neurologic condition.

Recommendation:
Practice all CDC guidelines in terms of hygiene and social distancing. Work remotely where possible. Treat any fevers aggressively.

2. Should I continue taking my disease-modifying therapy?

Persons with MS should not stop taking their Disease-Modifying Therapy (DMT). However, some DMTs are more immunosuppressive than others and may increase an individual’s risk of contracting infection.

Recommendation:
Persons on certain DMTs, especially alemtuzumab, cladribine, ocrelizumab or rituximab, or fingolimod or siponimod should discuss with their healthcare provider any modifications for these treatments. Also, ask your healthcare provider about the feasibility of postponing visits to the lab or MRI facility for routine monitoring.

3. How do I stay well during this time?

Exercise continues to be essential for maintaining function and wellness for persons with MS. Going to the gym is not recommended. Work out at home, walk or hike (away from crowds), dance, anything that gets you to move! Persons with more mobility impairment can still do chair and/or arm exercises, stretching, yoga, and some resistance exercise. Psychologic wellness is equally as important. Now is a good time to practice meditation, or other stress management strategies. Eating well remains important. Staying at home may mean more opportunities to cook healthier meals.

Recommendation:
Try to get in 20-30 minutes day of some kind of exercise or physical activity.Here are some suggestions for websites/apps for movement related activities, particularly for those persons with more limited mobility.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society provides an overview and some frequently asked questions about MS and COVID-19.

For more information, or to schedule a virtual video visit, call 310-582-7613.

About the Author

Barbara Giesser, MD

Barbara Giesser

Barbara S. Giesser, MD, FAAN, FANA, is an internationally recognized clinician and award-winning educator who has specialized in the care of persons with Multiple Sclerosis since 1982. Her approach to the diagnosis and management of persons with MS combines advanced diagnostics and a personalized medication plan for each patient with an emphasis on integrating lifestyle and wellness strategies into the neurologic treatment plan.

Last updated: April 4th, 2020