Here is My Question:
When I get stressed my MS definitely acts up. What happens in my brain when I get stressed. Why does it make my MS worse?
It is certainly true that chronic stress activates multiple sclerosis and stress management reduces MRI measures of MS activity and improves symptoms. David Mohr at Northwestern published clinical trial results in 2012 demonstrating a very significant reduction in both enhancing lesions and new T2 lesions (white spots) on the MRIs of people with MS randomized to 16 weeks of stress management. The exact mechanism responsible for the worsening of MS and other physical and mental health conditions with chronic stress is linked to the effects of chronic stress on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is generally linked to chronic low level elevations in cortisol.
Notice how I have specifically referred to chronic stress throughout this answer. Acute stress has a number of beneficial effects just like acute short courses of corticosteroids can be beneficial in MS patients.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor of Clinical Neurosciences
University of California San Diego
Is it possible that my MS is causing instant hot flashes when I am upset or stressed? For example, if a particularly annoying person calls, as soon as I see their number displayed a hot flash sets in.
My initial impression of the connection between MS and an immediate hot flash is dubious. MS symptoms tend not to come on suddenly but have a more gradual onset and also tend to be asymmetric (i.e., not a mirror image on both sides of the body which is usually the case in hot flashes). I think it is more likely a stress reaction independent of MS. With that said, medications such as gabapentin that is used for MS-related sensory disturbances can help hot flash symptoms as well if their severity warrants a medication trial. This is something you can bring up with your doctor. Other option, of course, is to block all annoying callers if feasible. :)
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