The Best Drugs for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a type of disease in which the body attacks its own brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include numbness, muscle spasms, loss of balance, lack of coordination, tremors and weakness in the arms or legs, according to Medline Plus. Sometimes this disease leads to constipation, double vision, muscle spasms and facial pain. The best drugs for multiple sclerosis are able to successfully manage multiple sclerosis symptoms.

Prednisone

Prednisone, commonly sold as Sterapred or Prednisone Intensol, is a corticosteroid medication that reduces redness or swelling and alters the way in which the immune system works, says Medline Plus. This drug also treats arthritis, severe allergic reactions and conditions that affect the skin, eyes, stomach, intestines and thyroid gland.

Prednisone’s less serious side effects include dizziness, headache, heartburn, increased sweating, weak muscles and a decreased sex drive. In some instances, prednisone can also lead to weak muscles, acne, bulging of the eyes and changes in the distribution of fat within the body. Tell a physician when prednisone’s less serious side effects remain for more than five days.

Some of prednisone’s serious side effects include stomach problems, vomiting, sudden weight gain, lightheadedness, seizures and depression. In some instances, prednisone can also lead to a dry and hacking cough, trouble breathing or swallowing, itching, hives and shortness of breath. Notify a physician immediately when prednisone leads to these effects.

Taking such medications as warfarin, cyclosporine, saquinavir, phenobarbital and zafirlukast may require a decrease in prednisone’s dosage. Prednisone is a tablet or liquid taken one to four times daily.

Interferon Beta-1b

Interferon beta-1b, commonly sold as Betaseron or Extavia, is a medication used to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis. This medication does not cure multiple sclerosis, but it helps decrease the frequency of multiple sclerosis flareups, according to Drugs.com.

Interferon beta-1b’s less concerning side effects include headache, weakness, menstrual irregularities, skin rash, stomach pain and swelling of the feet or hands. In some instances, interferon beta-1b also leads to muscle pain or weakness and trouble sleeping. Tell a physician when interferon beta-1b’s less serious side effects remain for more than a week.

This drug’s serious side effects include trouble sleeping, restlessness, weight changes, pounding heartbeat, yellowing of the skin or eyes, body aches and chills as well as swelling, bruising or skin changes at the injection site. Inform a physician immediately if interferon beta-1b leads to any of these effects.

An alteration in dose may be required if you suffer from liver or thyroid disease, epilepsy, anemia or have a history of depression or suicidal tendencies. Interferon beta-1b is given as an injection under the skin every two days.

Glatiramer

Glatiramer, commonly sold as Copaxone, is designed to treat and prevent multiple sclerosis. Glatiramer is actually a mixture of four amino acids that affect the immune system, according to Drugs.com.

Glatiramer’s less serious side effects include a runny nose, menstrual irregularities, dizziness, weakness, joint pain, diarrhea and nausea. In some instances, glatiramer also leads to pain, swelling, irritation and a lump at the injection site. Notify a physician if glatiramer’s less concerning side effects last for more than one week.

Glatiramer’s serious side effects include chest pain, chills, body aches and a fast heart rate. Talk to a physician if any of glatiramer’s serious side effects develop.

Do not take this drug if you are allergic to it or mannitol. Signs of an allergy to glatiramer include difficulty breathing, hives and swelling of the tongue, face or throat. Glatiramer is given as an injection once a day.

About this Author

Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and LIVESTRONG. She holds a Doctorate in medicine, Masters in biomedicine, and Bachelors of Science in biology from Boston College.