Children are often compared to petri dishes given how often they get sick, especially during the winter months. Illnesses can range from a mild stuffy nose to a full-blown flu that can impact the family for weeks. For mothers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), all things have to be considered with risk getting an exacerbation, developing more severe illness and needing more to catch up with after recovering.
There is conflicting research on when to return to prior routines, what treatments to take etc. While it’s important to rest, it can be a tough ask of mothers, who are usually responsible for most of the household and children-related tasks. So how the heck can mothers bounce back?
Here are just a few tips to consider as you are recovering from and illness or taking care of sick family members. These do not replace medical advice and always talk to you physician or healthcare provider first. Remember that no medical question is ever a dumb one, so always better to ask a medical professional. If symptoms are not improving or feel something is not right, seek medical attention sooner than later. Scroll down to review 9 ways that can help you keep on track.
1. Stay well hydrated. You need to replenish your body more frequently due to the physiological changes with being ill and not getting enough rest. Keep glasses of water or a thermos close by. Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content such as apples, watermelon, strawberries and cucumbers and drink bone broth (look for organic and low sodium).
2. Gradually integrate gentle restorative movements as you start to feel better, such as child’s pose, cat/camel and pigeon pose. Ease into these and try not stay in positions for too long (5-10 deep breaths at most or what you are comfortable with), which can cause more muscle tension.
3. Practice deep breathing. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your mind and body. Go in through your nose and out through your mouth and engaging your diaphragm.
4. Let go of your standards. Chances are your house will be a mess and obligations will be pushed back. Some screen time (if age appropriate) is totally fine if it helps everyone rest or gives you time to get something done. It’s about getting through the illness and healing.
5. Be aware of the side effects of medications you are taking and how it can impact your MS. Corticosteroids can be helpful, but make your muscles weaker and cause fatigue, so don’t overexert yourself. Niquil and other medications to help you sleep can cause more drowsiness and mental fog during the day. Always consult with your doctor before taking medications.
6. Use more props to support your body. This can be a yoga bolster, pillows, fluffy blankets etc. to reduce muscle tension and overall pain. Try to use them whenever possible and reposition as often as needed.
7. Use a humidifier. It can help with breathing and reduce nasal irritation. Especially with small kids, avoid scented oils. COVID also taught us that purifiers are a fantastic addition to keep our air clean and reduce contaminants.
8. Current medical advice (1) states that if the symptoms are below the neck such as muscle aches, deep cough or fever, refrain from exercising. If symptoms are above the neck such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes or sneezing, it’s most likely ok to continue with light exercise or activity (this can also mean easier chores). This is a general recommendation. However, it’s not advisable to stay sedentary for too long because it can aggravate muscle spasticity, rigidity, weakness and pain among other things. Again, you know your body best and when to start moving again.
9. Be aware of your fall risk. In the midst of not feeling well and experiencing more fatigue and stress, you may not be as aware of your body mechanics. Taking time to slow down a bit and wearing socks with skids can make a difference. Also, try to minimize floor clutter when possible.
Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20058494