You Are Not Alone: MS and Incontinence

Because MS affects the central nervous system, it’s difficult to predict what symptoms each person will have. MS can cause complications with vision, muscle control, balance and other basic functions. One of the most common, and to be honest, often embarrassing symptoms is incontinence.

Prevalence of Incontinence in MS Patients
It is important to know that if you have incontinence issues, you’re certainly not alone. Incontinence can occur in the form of occasional leaks when coughing or sneezing, or sudden urges to urinate  throughout the day and sometimes leading to leaks before going to the bathroom. Though this may be an awkward topic, it’s important to know that MS does not define you. Although MS causes a lot of uncertainty, there are things within your control. People grit through this symptom without seeking any form of help, citing embarrassment as a barrier. However, having the right knowledge and support system is essential to managing your symptoms.

Consult Your Doctor for Advice and Support
It is imperative to consult a doctor’s opinion when dealing with urinary incontinence in MS. Many people tend to reduce fluid intake. However, the urine ends up being overly concentrated to the point that it ends up irritating the inner lining of the bladder. Subsequently, the concentrated urine increases the likelihood of infections, and leads to dehydration and other complications.

Your doctor will most likely seek to treat the condition by teaching bladder retraining. Also, it’s important to learn better fluid management. Essentially, fluid management involves strategies such as reducing fluid intake at night, and opting to switch to water instead of numerous cups of coffee.

Tips for Caregivers
Caregivers often encounter the issue of incontinence and have to deal with the stigma associated with the condition. Understandably, not many people know about the disease, hence the lack of understanding regarding best practices for care.

Being Emotionally Supportive
Caring for someone living with MS can, at times, be challenging because it’s such an individualized disease. The person with MS might be overcome by feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety, so it’s important  to identify changes in behavior and social isolation and seek help.

Watch Food and Fluid Intake
To deal with incontinence, many people often have a misconstrued notion that they should cut back on fluid intake. It is important to avoid cutting back on fluid intake completely, because this can actually increase the risk of kidney injury, as previously discussed. However, there are simple strategies that you can implement, such as avoiding drinking water two hours before bedtime.

Additionally, you should consume ample amounts of fiber because they add bulk to the stool and make it easier to pass. Some of the ideal sources of fiber include fruits, whole grain foods and vegetables. Greasy and spicy foods can exacerbate incontinence and irritate the intestines.

Be Prepared for Possible Accidents
It is always important to be prepared for possible accidents. Persons with MS should consider wearing protective pads, carrying extra pairs of underwear, using a catheter when one is away from home, or planning frequent breaks to use the bathroom. Such strategies can help one avoid accidents or mitigate the situation when accidents occur.

The most important thing to note is that you are not alone if you deal with incontinence. For more information, visit the Society website.
Tags Caregiving, Symptoms      2 Appreciate this
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British Solomon

British is a contributing writer and media specialist for Men’s Liberty. She regularly produces content for a variety of health and lifestyle blogs.

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  • Maria Wieand   Jun 7, 2018 5:20 PM
    I have bladder incontinence and have been undergoing Bladder Therapy. I will be the first to tell you I am amazed that pelvic control and breathing can help you with these issues. My water intake and timing to visit the rest-room is very important also. I have learned to do relaxation breathing, exercises and learning so much more about my body and how to help it stay in control.
  • Linda Halvorson   Jun 7, 2018 5:52 PM
    I have done intermittent catheterization for years and it greatly simplified the issue particularly when I was still working.
  • Pat   Jun 7, 2018 7:09 PM
  • Judy   Jun 7, 2018 8:08 PM
    Please remove my email from your blog. I no longer want to receive emails from this blog site.
  • SmartyPants196   Jun 7, 2018 11:23 PM
    I had been taking the medication called Ditropan, it was when I was working and wouldn't have time to go pee (I was an outreach worker who drove disabled around doing errands) so when I finally go close to my house, as I was turning the key I would just have a rush of urine. Well when I retired I stopped having that problem, as I could always go when I needed to. I got off the med. SUre I occassionally have the cough leak but nothing like the full empty soak.
    Also, learning from a Physical therapist, how to do kegel exercises which strengthen your core muscles.They can teach you the differnece between sucking in your gut and kegals which is lower, it's like when you are going pee and you want to stop the flow that's the muscle you have to work with. Whenever I think of it no matter what i am doing I do kegals, it helps strengthens that muscle which help you hold in your urine.I hope this helps someone
  • Avatar
    Kris-MSConnection  Jun 8, 2018 9:30 AM
    Judy & Pat -- You've been unsubscribed. I apologize for the inconvenience. We are looking into updating our system. Thanks. Kris
  • Christina Wilson   Jun 8, 2018 11:59 AM
    I think acceptance is the first piece and knowing you are more than your ability to control your urine. I also think preparing with adult diapers alleviated more anxiety, worry and shame when caught with weakened muscles that no longer worked as expected. I heard there is a device for pelvic floor training - not sure of availability. It’s not just a technical problem. Return to infancy for your body and needed to still love this body and not be mad at it. My adult diaper bag with changes give me peace of mind to leave my bathroom some days.
  • Angela Kirby   Jun 9, 2018 5:17 AM
    So very helpful and supportive but no matter how many times I mention it to my medical support the advice I get is urinate more frequently and even on a timed basis. Annoying and sometimes hard to follow. Most annoying is emptying, go to wash hands and the urge returns! Thank you for this post, will now be more assertive and try for a DISCUSSION rathen than just a MENTION.
  • capitolcarol   Jun 9, 2018 1:29 PM
    I suffered from this for quite a while before I went to see an urologist. Because of this problem, I also ended up with UTIs for which the urologist gave me antibiotics. I also occasionally have to do catheterization for which I am still not comfortable doing. Mainly, I have to wear Depends so that I don't worry about accidents or trying to find the bathroom all the time.
  • M McIntyre   Jul 19, 2018 11:57 AM
    I found relief through acupuncture. I no longer battle with my bladder and can live normally.