Some multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions can block or delay nerve messages that control the bladder and bowel.
MS symptoms in the bowel/bladder can include these 6 issues:
- Increased frequency in urination
- Urgency to urinate
- Hesitancy in starting urination
- Frequent nighttime urination (nocturia)
- Leaking or incontinence
The most common problem is called “spastic bladder.” This happens when the bladder is unable to hold the normal amount of urine or does not empty properly. This can leave urine in the bladder and possibly lead to infection. If you develop bladder or bowel issues, getting examined or treated early may help you avoid complications.
Constipation is another concern for people with MS. Constipation may be caused by too little fluid intake, by your intestinal tract slowing down, by decreased activity, and by certain medications used to control bladder symptoms.
KEEP TRACK OF SYMPTOMS
Our Symptom Tracker makes talking to your healthcare provider easier.
Nine tips for dealing with bowel/bladder issues due to MS:
- Change your fluid intake. For example, limit fluid intake a few hours before bedtime, or cut out caffeine.
- Get examined and treated early if you develop bladder or bowel issues, so that you can avoid any complications, like bladder infections.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluid (preferably water) daily, but limit your fluid intake a few hours before bedtime to avoid frequent urination during the night.
- Avoid bladder irritants such as alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.
- Include plenty of fiber in your diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and cereals all contain fiber.
- Add exercise to your routine. Consult your healthcare provider first.
- Use medicines such as stool softeners, enemas, suppositories, and laxatives may also be used to help a bowel movement. Talk with your healthcare provider before using any of these options.
- Establish a regular time and schedule for emptying the bowels.
- Wait no more than 2-3 days between bowel movements.
Your healthcare provider can help you establish an effective bladder/bowel management program. Occasionally, it may be necessary to consult a gastroenterologist. He or she is a healthcare provider who specializes in treating the stomach and bowel.