Vitamin D has shown to lower the number of Multiple Sclerosis relapses MS patients experience throughout the year. However, a medicine has yet to be formulated that prevents MS relapses from ever happening again. A relapse is caused by MS lesions present on the spinal cord or brain. Lesions are detected by an MRI scan, but not all of them will show up when the scan is performed. Relapses are also known as ‘flares’, ‘attacks’, or ‘exacerbations’.

Besides consuming a high daily dose of vitamin D, specific medicines have been approved for MS patients that have proven to lower the percentage of relapses. The rate of relapse episodes drops significantly with the newer medications approved for by the FDA and one of them is an oral drug, whereas the others are all given through injections.

The brain or spinal cord lesion causing the relapse is formed when nerve cells are attacked by the immune system. The body feels the need to attack the cells and strips the myelin sheath off of them. Myelin is a protective coating needed for nerves to send signals more effectively. When this outer layer is taken off, conductive properties of cells diminish.


Signs of a Relapse


Signs of a relapse will depend on where the lesion is located. For instance, a lesion on the optic nerves can cause visual impairment, but a lesion on the cerebellum is likely to cause a loss of coordination instead. Additional symptoms or signs can be less severe than these two examples and it’s helpful to be aware of what they are too.

The relapse can cause sudden fatigue or maybe only a slight feeling of unsteadiness. An MRI scan is the only way to truly tell if a relapse is occurring. Gadolinium is a color-less dye injected into the system of the person with MS before an MRI takes place. The dye causes areas of inflammation, or lesions, to show up as a much brighter color than the rest of the brain, which allows them to show up on the scan.

Multiple Sclerosis relapses last at least 24 hours, in order for them to be considered a true relapse. Miniature MS relapses can occur as well, but the symptoms for these only last a couple of hours or possibly just a few minutes. Taking MS medications on a regular basis and keeping the immune system as healthy as possible are the best preventatives for relapses.