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Bowel and bladder issues come hand in hand with MS, this article tells you what to expect and how to manage it.

Multiple sclerosis is a medical condition with symptoms that can appear in people between the ages of 20 and 40. While the causes of multiple sclerosis remain unknown, it is believed that this problem occurs in people that have a specific gene. In some cases, viruses are the cause of MS, as they affect the immune system up to a point where it fails to work properly.

What Is multiple sclerosis?

Also known as MS, multiple sclerosis is a medical condition that can affect a person’s brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. It harms the body on multiple levels, as people who suffer from it have a difficult time in controlling their muscles, experience difficulties in seeing, and also lose control of other bodily functions.

Multiple sclerosis can have different effects from one patient to another. Some people only experience a mild form of MS, and don’t require medical treatment. In some unfortunate cases, MS can completely change one’s life, as they lose the ability to successfully do some of their day-to-day tasks.

Multiple sclerosis symptoms

Multiple sclerosis is a consequence of the body’s immune system attacking myelin. This is a fatty material that protects your nerve fibers. Without myelin, these nerves are exposed to damage, which often translates into the brain not being able to send signals to your body as it should. Attacking the nerves, the body is less capable of motion and feel.

As a consequence, someone who suffers from MS can have difficulties in moving, feels fatigue on a constant basis, has trouble controlling the muscles and experiences spasms, could have blurred vision, or poor bladder control. Sexual activity is often compromised, as all these symptoms combined lead to pain and depression. The quality of a life of a person who suffers from MS is often compromised, as they have trouble remembering information or focusing on what they have to do.

Bladder functions in multiple sclerosis patients

As mentioned above, people that have MS could experience difficulties in controlling their bladder. More specifically, the symptoms can include:

  • Incontinence, which is difficulty in controlling the bladder and the involuntary release of urine.
  • The urgency in having to go the bathroom.
  • An increase in the frequency of bathroom visits.
  • Hesitancy in starting to urinate.
  • Difficulty in sustaining a steady stream of urine.

Bowel functions in multiple sclerosis patients

Another common symptom of MS is bowel dysfunction. This happens as the brain sometimes fails to send the signals to other body parts, which in turn causes disruptions in the body’s natural processes. Constipation is one of the most common forms of bowel dysfunctions in MS patients.

Some of the interventions include:

  • Changes in the patient’s diet.
  • The introduction of physical activities.
  • Prescribed medication that can improve the symptoms.

Managing bladder symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients

A person that suffers from MS needs to know what are some of the key points to remember in such a case. Only by understanding how the body functions, can a person take the proper management steps to improve the quality of life, despite suffering from such a problem. Some management tips include:

  • Understanding more about how people urinate. Typically, the body requires about one and a half or two hours after drinking something to urinate. A good solution is trying to drink all the liquid you need to in a single stance. Taking constant small sips will increase the urinating frequency.
  • People who drink liquids two hours before bedtime, will constantly wake up during the night, feeling the need to urinate. Try to avoid this by avoiding all drinks at least two hours before bed.
  • Never try to limit fluid, as this can cause dehydration, which leads to other health issues.
  • Try to avoid consuming things that irritate the bladder. It’s important to limit the intake of caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and aspartame.
  • Bladder infections are frequently caused when people don’t empty their bladder completely. It’s best to take your time when sitting on the toilet, to avoid such possible complications in the future.

Managing bowel symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients

When a person has MS, some lifestyle changes can lead to the improvement of this symptom. Some of the steps a person can take to better manage this situation are:

  • Controlling the diet, so that the body can be a step closer to a comfortable bowel movement. This implies drinking fluids, but also consuming about 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day.
  • Certain types of food should be avoided because they can cause involuntary bowel movements, and make an MS patient lose control over this function. Such foods include spicy or greasy food or anything that’s known to cause food intolerance (like lactose-based products).
  • A comfortable bowel movement can be achieved when a patient learns how to properly manage their diet. This process can take up to three months, and it implies going to the bathroom for about half an hour after eating. Warm drinks may also help.
  • There are certain positions that could help trigger bowel movement faster. When sitting on a toilet, it sometimes helps to rock the upper side of the body back and forth, in order to force the body to go.
  • Suppositories are known for their ability to trigger the need to go to the bathroom. Keep in mind that it takes about 20 minutes for the suppository to work.
  • In some cases, there are certain food or vitamins that can help trigger bowel movement. Some examples are magnesia milk or magnesia citrate.


About 75 percent of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis end up having bladder dysfunctions. Along with certain bowel problems, a patient’s lifestyle is greatly affected. There are a lot of patients that are not aware of the symptoms of bladder and bowel dysfunctions. A visit to the doctor once the first symptoms appear can result in a personalized form of treatment. Management of such problems implies a greater understanding of how one’s body works. If you suspect any issues based on the aforementioned symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

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