You Are Not Alone: MS and Incontinence

Because MS affects the central nervous system, it’s difficult to predict what symptoms each person will have. MS can cause complications with vision, muscle control, balance and other basic functions. One of the most common, and to be honest, often embarrassing symptoms is incontinence.

Prevalence of Incontinence in MS Patients
It is important to know that if you have incontinence issues, you’re certainly not alone. Incontinence can occur in the form of occasional leaks when coughing or sneezing, or sudden urges to urinate  throughout the day and sometimes leading to leaks before going to the bathroom. Though this may be an awkward topic, it’s important to know that MS does not define you. Although MS causes a lot of uncertainty, there are things within your control. People grit through this symptom without seeking any form of help, citing embarrassment as a barrier. However, having the right knowledge and support system is essential to managing your symptoms.

Consult Your Doctor for Advice and Support
It is imperative to consult a doctor’s opinion when dealing with urinary incontinence in MS. Many people tend to reduce fluid intake. However, the urine ends up being overly concentrated to the point that it ends up irritating the inner lining of the bladder. Subsequently, the concentrated urine increases the likelihood of infections, and leads to dehydration and other complications.

Your doctor will most likely seek to treat the condition by teaching bladder retraining. Also, it’s important to learn better fluid management. Essentially, fluid management involves strategies such as reducing fluid intake at night, and opting to switch to water instead of numerous cups of coffee.

Tips for Caregivers
Caregivers often encounter the issue of incontinence and have to deal with the stigma associated with the condition. Understandably, not many people know about the disease, hence the lack of understanding regarding best practices for care.

Being Emotionally Supportive
Caring for someone living with MS can, at times, be challenging because it’s such an individualized disease. The person with MS might be overcome by feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety, so it’s important  to identify changes in behavior and social isolation and seek help.

Watch Food and Fluid Intake
To deal with incontinence, many people often have a misconstrued notion that they should cut back on fluid intake. It is important to avoid cutting back on fluid intake completely, because this can actually increase the risk of kidney injury, as previously discussed. However, there are simple strategies that you can implement, such as avoiding drinking water two hours before bedtime.

Additionally, you should consume ample amounts of fiber because they add bulk to the stool and make it easier to pass. Some of the ideal sources of fiber include fruits, whole grain foods and vegetables. Greasy and spicy foods can exacerbate incontinence and irritate the intestines.

Be Prepared for Possible Accidents
It is always important to be prepared for possible accidents. Persons with MS should consider wearing protective pads, carrying extra pairs of underwear, using a catheter when one is away from home, or planning frequent breaks to use the bathroom. Such strategies can help one avoid accidents or mitigate the situation when accidents occur.

The most important thing to note is that you are not alone if you deal with incontinence. For more information, visit the Society website.
Tags Caregiving, Symptoms      2 Appreciate this
British

British Solomon

British is a contributing writer and media specialist for Men’s Liberty. She regularly produces content for a variety of health and lifestyle blogs.