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Multiple Sclerosis - Constipation

Constipation is common in the general population but is more so amongst people with a neurological condition. It is especially common amongst people with MS as messages between the brain and the bowel can become mixed up leading to slower movement of faeces through the bowel.

Simple tips that may help to avoid constipation are:

Drink plenty of fluids. Limiting fluids can make your stool harder and more difficult to expel ( aim for 1.5 –2 litres daily).

Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, as well as a high fibre diet.

Never strain your bowel. This can lead to hemorrhoids (piles).

Take your time for opening your bowels and do not rush.

Make sure you eat breakfast as there is evidence that people who omit this meal tend to be constipated.

If safe to do so, you can raise your foot level whilst sitting on the toilet so that your knees are higher than your bottom. This may help with the movement of your stool. Try drinking hot water or other hot fluid and then try to open your bowels. You can ask your nurse about abdominal massage, you need to be taught this procedure.

Don’t ignore a sensation of needing to open your bowels ( the call to stool).

Any medications you are prescribed for constipation are to be taken as well as a high fibre diet.

Some medications can lead to constipation, ie Oxybutynin, Tolterodine,Regurin, MST and Codeine are just a few with this effect

Incontinence due to constipation

If you are very constipated for a long period of time your stool may become very hard and watery matter can leak around the hard plug of faeces in your bowel. This is known as “overflow diarrhea”. It is important to try to clear the bowel of the hard stool and oral medications plus possibly an enema or suppository may be advised.

If you are unsure you can contact your MS nurse on 0151 529 5645

Other organizations who can help:

Incontact 0870 770 3246

The Continence Foundation 0845 345 0165

MS Society UK 020 8438 0700

MS Society Cymbru Wales 029 2079 6676

MS Trust 01462 476700

The Brain Charity 0151 298 2999

 

  • Last Updated:
    01 November 2019
  • Review Date:
    01 November 2022
  • Author:
    Fiona Lynch
  • Summary:

    Constipation is common in the general population but is more so amongst people with a neurological condition. It is especially common amongst people with MS as messages between the brain and the bowel can become mixed up leading to slower movement of faeces through the bowel.

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