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Multiple Sclerosis and Bowel Problems

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If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), your bathroom habits may not be what they used to be. You might have bowel movements a lot more, not as much, or it may be harder to go. Talk to your doctor about these troubles. She can suggest ways to make things regular. But there are also simple ways to adjust your habits to make bathroom visits more predictable.

Bowel Problems You Might Have With Multiple Sclerosis

Constipation. It’s very common for people with MS. The disease can interrupt the messages nerves send to and from the brain that signal that it’s time for a bowel movement. MS can also keep pelvic floor muscles from relaxing, which helps your body get rid of stool. Also, it can stop the natural increase in activity of your colon after you eat.

Outside of MS, a poor diet (including not getting enough fiber), too little exercise, and depression all affect the digestive system. Medications and supplements also can cause constipation.

Loss of bowel control. This problem means you may not be able to reach the bathroom fast enough. The most common causes include long-lasting constipation, severe diarrhea, stress, hemorrhoids, nerve or muscle damage, and using laxatives too much.

Diarrhea. It usually happens because of allergies or sensitivity to spicy foods or dairy products, bad water or food, a change in activity level, or an infection. Diarrhea can also signal another problem. If it you have it often or all the time, see your doctor. In some cases, she may tell you to see a doctor who specializes in treating bowel problems, called a gastroenterologist.

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