Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, occurs most often among adults however about 8,000-10,000 kids under 16 years old are diagnosed each year. MS is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues, specifically of the central nervous system.
After initial diagnosis and an effective treatment plan is in place to manage MS symptoms, a relapse can unfortunately occur though at any time. Children with MS have more than twice the number of relapses as adults. There is often no rhyme or reason for a relapse, but it can be triggered by an infection, fever, or another mild illness that compromises immunity.
A relapse is defined as any new symptom or recurrence of a previous one that lasts for more than 24 hours.
Symptoms of an MS relapse might include:
- limb numbness, loss of balance
- weakness and tingling throughout the body
- vision changes (blurred, loss of, or double vision)
- poor coordination or lack of mobility
- concentration or memory problems
Dr. Kane says that “We are not yet close to curing MS, but we are getting close to being able to keep it in remission by stopping the relapses. It is a very hopeful and exciting time.”
What should I do if my child appears to have a relapse?
According to Dr. Kane, the best way to diagnose a relapse and determine a swift course of treatment is to make an appointment with your child’s specialist right away–even if the symptoms seem minor. Typically an MRI will be ordered to examine the brain and spinal cord to check for any new lesions that might be contributing to these flare-ups or relapses.
Early and aggressive treatment when a relapse comes on is the key to significantly reducing the severity of the symptoms and further progression.
To prevent relapses and best manage symptoms, Dr. Kane adds that it is important to make sure your child is taking their medications properly and get your child talking, “Ask them how they’re feeling about their symptoms and what, if any, help they need from you.”
Frequently checking in with them on how they’re doing or if symptoms are starting to pop up can lead to quicker treatment and less downtime.
Kids with MS can be prone to depression, so keeping them active and in their regular routines with school, sports, and activities goes a long way.
Dr. Kane is a board-certified, fellowship-trained child neurologist. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kane or any one of our pediatric specialists, please contact us here.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological disorders in children from 0 to 21 years old and offers three convenient clinic locations to best serve you in Austin, South Austin, and Cedar Park.