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Multiple Sclerosis and Bowel Problems

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How Can I Maintain Regular Bowel Movements With Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Increase your fluid intake. Try to drink six to eight glasses of water daily. If you're having urinary problems linked to multiple sclerosis it may be tempting to cut back on your fluid intake, but this makes constipation worse. Lack of water may harden the stool, making it more difficult to pass. And increased pressure from the stool on parts of the urinary system may actually increase bladder problems. Drink something hot as the first beverage in the morning, such as hot water or hot apple cider or drink ½ to 1 cup of prune juice in the morning to stimulate a bowel movement.
  • Increase your fiber intake. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals is the best way to increase the amount of fiber you eat. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to foods and drink plenty of liquids (liquids help bran to be effective). Try bran sprinkled over hot or cold cereal, casseroles, or mixed with applesauce, pancake batter, pudding, muffin batter, milk shakes, or cookie dough. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.
  • Try to maintain regularity. Establish a regular time for emptying the bowels. Plan trips to the bathroom immediately after meals since eating is a natural stimulus for having a bowl movement. Try to wait no more than two to three days between bowel movements.
  • Exercise. Activity such as walking helps normalize bowel function.
  • Use stool softeners. Only do this under the direction of your doctor.

How Do I Control Diarrhea if I Have Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Drink 8 or more cups of liquids per day. Add 1 to 2 cups of liquids to the daily 8 cups for every episode of loose, watery stool you have to replace losses. Try water, lemonade or fruit-flavored drinks, fruit or vegetable juice, broth, milk, or cream soup.
  • Talk with your doctor or dietitian about increasing or decreasing the amount of fiber you eat.
  • Eat soft foods that contain large amounts of liquid, such as sherbet, yogurt, and pudding.
  • Ask your doctor whether adjusting your medications might help relieve the diarrhea, but do not change your medications without first talking to your doctor.
  • Don't take over-the-counter (nonprescription) drugs for diarrhea without talking to your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on April 13, 2014
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