9 Things You Might Bring to Your Next MS Infusion Session

Try these tips to keep yourself comfortable and help pass the time during infusion therapy for multiple sclerosis.

Infusion therapy is a method of delivering medication via an intravenous catheter, more commonly known as an IV. There are a number of medications used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) that are delivered via infusion, including some short-course corticosteroids that are used to treat MS flare-ups (also known as attacks, exacerbations, relapses or episodes), as well as long-term treatments with disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), which are used to prevent MS flare-ups.

The duration of an infusion varies depending on the type of medication being administered. Some medications take a few minutes, others take an hour, while others take several hours (and require multiple doses over several consecutive days). There is also a required observation period that follows an infusion, where the healthcare providers at the infusion center watch for any adverse effects from the treatment, and check up on you to make sure everything went well. Post-infusion observation adds at least another hour, possibly two, depending on the specific medication you are receiving.

All of this adds up to a number of hours in which you’ll be waiting around. It can help to think of an infusion appointment the way you would a commute or a flight—you’ll want to bring along a few things to keep yourself entertained and help you relax. Below are some tips on ways to pass the time during your infusion appointment, and some suggestions on things to bring that can make the experience more comfortable. If you have a friend or loved one who is receiving an infusion therapy, you might also find some good gift ideas:

  • Book. Busy schedules can make it tough to find time to read. Use the time you’re spending at the infusion center to delve into a good (or bad!) book.
  • Headphones. And of course, something to listen to with the headphones, like an audiobook, podcast or relaxing music.
  • Laptop or tablet. Many infusion centers offer Wi-Fi, which means you can stream a show, shop online, message a friend or even catch up on work (which can be a great distraction for some).
  • Games. Play a game on your phone, tablet or other device. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are other options.
  • Charger and power bank. Games and apps can put a drain on your phone or tablet’s battery. Bring these along to keep it charged.
  • Blanket and a pillow. Having a blanket or pillow on hand can help you get comfortable during an infusion. Some infusion centers have a ready supply of these, but you can also bring your own.
  • Sleep mask. If you want to nap or just rest your eyes during treatment, pack a sleep mask.
  • Snacks and water. Bring water to sip during your infusion, and also bring something to munch on, especially if your appointment falls on or near a mealtime. But prior to your appointment, it is important to contact the infusion center and ask what policies they have regarding food and what they recommend (for example, foods containing nuts might not be allowed, as nut allergies are common and may affect other patients).
  • Mints or gum. A metallic taste in the mouth is a common side effect of steroid infusions. Mints, gum or hard candies can help.

For more detailed information about your infusion and what to expect, talk to your healthcare provider and contact the infusion center prior to your appointment. As with any treatment, it is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions before, during and after an infusion.

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