Stroke: Bladder and Bowel Problems - Topic Overview
Some people who have a stroke suffer loss of bladder
control (urinary incontinence) after the stroke. But this is usually
temporary. And it can have many causes, including infection, constipation, and
the effects of medicines.
If you have problems controlling your
bladder, your doctor may:
It all started with a headache -- pounding pain behind the left eye -- that wouldn't go away.
A healthy 37-year-old at the time, Jill Bolte Taylor tried to shake the pain
with a cardioworkout. But that didn't work.
Feeling rocky, Taylor headed for her shower. She noticed herself losing
coordination and struggling with balance -- she had to lean against her shower
The shower's roar startled her, and her sense of where her body began and
ended was fading. "My perception of myself was that...
Test a urine sample to see if you have an
Do tests to see how you urinate, which can help you
and your doctor decide what treatment might work best for you.
you develop a schedule of regular bathroom use that fits your
Suggest that you wear protective clothing or a
Prescribe medicines, depending on the cause of your bladder
Some things you can do to prevent bladder leakage
Emptying your bladder at regular intervals,
including when you first wake up and at bedtime.
liquid intake, such as drinking liquids at regular intervals and limiting fluid
intake after dinner.
have trouble emptying your bladder completely (urinary retention). Urinary
retention is common, especially right after a stroke, but it usually improves
If you have urinary retention problems, your doctor
Place a tube (catheter) into your bladder to
prevent too much urine from building up. This is used only if absolutely
needed. (For more information, see the topic Urinary Incontinence in Men or
Urinary Incontinence in Women.)
Have you avoid medicines with certain side effects that cause the
bladder to retain urine.
Prescribe medicines, depending on the
cause of your bladder problems.
Test a urine sample to see if you
have an infection (common with urinary retention problems).
itself does not cause constipation. But constipation often occurs after
a stroke because you are not drinking enough liquids, are in bed most of the
time, or are taking certain medicines as part of your treatment. If your
constipation is severe, stool can become lodged (impacted) in the bowel.
If you are constipated:
Drink extra liquids, especially
Set a regular time for using the toilet.
If you continue to have problems with constipation, your
doctor may recommend a bulking agent (such as Metamucil), a stool softener, or
regular use of a laxative or enema.