How to Manage Multiple Sclerosis and Incontinence
- On July 31, 2018
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It is estimated that there are over 100,000 people in the UK living with Multiple Sclerosis. It is often simply thought of as causing difficulty in coordination. However, a surprising symptom of Multiple Sclerosis is incontinence.
Shockingly, bladder dysfunction occurs in 80 percent of people who are affected by Multiple Sclerosis. An overactive bladder is one that is unable to hold the normal amount of urine, or a bladder that does not empty properly.
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What are the Main Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a long-lasting disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord and the nerves in the eyes. The name “multiple sclerosis” refers to the numerous scars that develop on the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. In individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, the coating protecting your nerves is damaged, causing various unpleasant symptoms. Specific symptoms depend on which part of your central nervous system has been affected. Common symptoms reported are the following:
-Problems with balance and walking
-Loss of vision
-Difficulty with coordination
-Loss of control over muscle movements
Urinary Incontinence: The Symptom Nobody Talks About
To fully control urination, a coordination between the bladder muscles and the sphincter is vital. Any disruption in the signals can create embarrassing problems. When lesions block or delay transmission of nerve signals in areas of the central nervous system, this causes incontinence. As researcher Tina Koch states, “for people with multiple sclerosis, urinary incontinence can become central to their experiences of managing the consequences of the disease.” A study in 1998 aimed to understand how people living with multiple sclerosis manage urinary incontinence. Bladder problems was found to be a subject that men in particular find “difficult to talk about”. When the brain and body do not communicate effectively, you lose control over bodily functions such as urination and voiding. These conditions can drastically affect a sufferer’s quality of life.
Multiple Sclerosis blogger and campaigner Mark asserts, “during the journey I suddenly felt the need to pee. Not the slow, rising need everyone normally feels after a few drinks. No, a sudden switch. From no need at all to desperation.” The most common types of incontinence caused by Multiple Sclerosis are urge incontinence and stress incontinence. Often, MS patients are less mobile which can lead to constipation.
Are you suffering from incontinence? Look out for the following symptoms:
- Struggling to start urination
- Frequent night time urination (Nocturia)
- Incontinence (the inability to hold in urine)
- Frequency and/or urgency of urination
- An Inability to empty the bladder completely
“I Have Incontinence: What Do I Do Now?”
Don’t be scared of talking to someone if you do have incontinence. Your physician may refer you to a urologist who specializes in treating incontinence. Common treatment methods are over the counter laxatives, rectal irrigation, medication and sacral nerve stimulation. It is wise to ask a Doctor for an individual assessment and treatment plan.
Are you taking care of an incontinent senior? Read about the causes of incontinence in elderly individuals for tips and advice.