About MS bowel problems

People with MS may be prone to bowel problems, including constipation and diarrhea. Here's what may happen and why.

Constipation

Experts believe that damage to the protective myelin covering on nerves can interfere with signals from the brain to the bowels. This can upset the normal movement of the bowels, leading to constipation.

Other causes of constipation in MS include:

  • Fatigue or mobility issues: Decreased ability to exercise and move around can cause the bowels to move more slowly.
  • Weakened muscles or muscle spasticity: Weakened stomach and bowel muscles can make the process of having a bowel movement more difficult. Problems with spasticity may also interfere with normal bowel movements.
  • Bladder problems: Some people with MS have bladder problems as well, and may restrict their fluid intake in an attempt to deal with them. However, this can cause bladder irritation and make constipation worse.
  • Medications: certain medications, such as calcium supplements, certain antacids, antidepressants, or pain relievers, can lead to constipation.

Diarrhea

People with MS can also experience diarrhea, although this is less common than constipation. As mentioned above, MS can damage the nerves that send signals between the brain and bowels. Sometimes this can cause constipation, but it may also cause diarrhea.

Diarrhea may be combined with a sudden loss of bowel control. This can be related to spastic muscles or overstretching during a bowel movement, which may cause the anal sphincter (the tight muscular ring that normally keeps the anus closed) to suddenly and unexpectedly relax, leading to leakage of bowel contents.

Loss of bowel control (also called fecal incontinence) may also be caused by constipation leading to "overflow" diarrhea, where loose stools leak out from behind a mass of hardened stool stuck in the bowel.

MS-related bowel problems can be distressing, but they can be managed. Read "How you can cope with MS bowel problems" to learn more about how to cope.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Bowel-and-Bladder-Issues

How you can cope with MS bowel problems

It's not always easy to talk about MS-related bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and loss of bowel control. But it's important to speak to your doctor if you notice these problems. Even if they seem minor, they may be a sign of a more serious condition. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment, which may include medications, biofeedback, or in some cases, procedures to remove hardened stool from the bowel.

In addition to following the treatment plan your doctor recommends, you can maintain healthy bowel habits by following these simple tips:

  • Drink enough fluid (6 to 8 glasses of fluid daily) to keep your body healthy.
  • Eat a fibre-rich diet. Good sources of fibre include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Try to get regular physical activity. Your doctor can suggest exercises that are appropriate for you.
  • Manage the stress in your life using relaxation techniques.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether your medications may be playing a role in your bowel problems.
  • If you're considering using medications to treat your bowel problems, speak to your doctor or pharmacist first.
  • Have bowel movements at regular times of the day so that you are used to a routine. Keep in mind that a normal pattern of bowel movements may range anywhere from 3 times a day to 3 times a week.
  • Consider using absorbent products if needed, such as underwear liners or protective pants, but don't use them as a substitute for seeking medical advice on bowel control issues.

Following these tips and working together with your doctor can help you cope with MS-related bowel problems.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Bowel-and-Bladder-Issues

About MS bladder problems

People with MS may have 3 main types of bladder control problems:

Difficulty storing urine happens when the nerves affected by MS mistakenly send a "bladder is full" message to the brain too early. Even though the bladder is not full, the brain thinks that it is. This leads to a frequent desire to urinate, a feeling that there is an urgent need to urinate, dribbling urine, urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine), and frequent urination at night.

Difficulty emptying urine happens when the bladder can't send the brain a message saying "I'm full" because the nerve pathways between the bladder and brain have been damaged. As a result, the bladder becomes so full of urine that it overflows. This leads to symptoms such as feeling an urgent need to urinate, dribbling urine, urinary incontinence, and trouble getting the flow of urine started once you are in the bathroom.

Combined dysfunction occurs when the muscles involved in urination become uncoordinated. In order for urination to happen, the sphincters (muscular rings that keep the bladder closed) must relax, allowing urine to leave the bladder. The bladder must also contract, pushing the urine out. If the bladder contracts but the sphincters do not relax, urine stays trapped within the bladder. The most common symptoms of combined dysfunction are dribbling of urine, urinary incontinence, an urgent need to urinate, and difficulty starting the flow of urine.

MS bladder problems can also lead to complications such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bladder or kidney stones. Read "How you can cope with MS bladder problems" to learn more about how to manage MS bladder problems.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Bowel-and-Bladder-Issues

How you can cope with MS bladder problems

MS bladder problems can be embarrassing, but help is available. The first step in coping with MS bladder problems is to see your doctor. Your doctor will determine the cause of the problem and recommend a course of treatment, which may include medications or intermittent catheterization, which involves draining the bladder using a thin tube inserted through your urinary opening.

Here are a few other things you can do to cope:

Follow your treatment plan:

  • Follow the treatment plan that you and your doctor have discussed. Take any medications exactly as prescribed.
  • If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), continue to take the full course of treatment, even if you feel better after a few days. This can help prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist when you should expect the medication to start working, which side effects to watch for, and when to return for a follow-up appointment. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any symptoms that worry you.

Keep drinking fluids:

  • Do not restrict your fluid intake – this can affect the kidneys and cause bladder irritation.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid daily. Don't drink large amounts of fluid at once, especially before going out or going to bed. Instead, try to spread your fluid intake out over the day by drinking smaller amounts more often.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate the bladder and worsen your bladder symptoms.

Wear absorbent pads if needed:

  • If you are concerned about leaking urine, try wearing an absorbent pad. Many different sizes and absorbencies are available. Some are quite discreet and look more like a sanitary napkin. Your pharmacist can help you find the product that's right for you.

Following these tips and seeking help from your doctor will help you get your MS bladder problems under control.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Bowel-and-Bladder-Issues