MS can effect the bowel through constipation, fecal incontinence (loss of control) and diarrhea.Talk with your healthcare provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing, so that an effective bowel management program can be established.
Loose stool and loss of control of the bowels can be altered by having an increase in fiber in the diet, but not adding large amounts of fluids. Diarrhea may need to be evaluated by your physician if persistent.
Constipation is caused by many factors which include:
• decreased fluid intake
• reduced physical activity
• decreased motility of the bowel
• certain medications – antidepressants, medications for bladder control, pain medications
• MS lesions in the spinal cord
Reducing constipation can be achieved by setting up a bowel routine.
• Select a time of the day that you can devote to have a bowel movement
• Drink at least 6-8 glasses of noncaffeinated drinks per day.
• Select foods high in fiber each day. Women need 25gms, men 38gms of fiber per day. Read dietary labels to choose the foods highest in fiber.
• Use over the counter stool softeners and fiber supplements if stool is hard.
• A glycerin suppository, also available over the counter, may help when difficulty with evacuation of stool is an issue. Digital rectal stimulation can improve evacuation with use of suppository.
• A bowel movement every 2-3 days is considered normal.
• Consult your physician for more information if constipation persists.
OSUMC Patient Education Handout on Constipation
OSUMC Patient Education Handout on High-Fiber Diet
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Bowel Dysfunction Information