Does multiple sclerosis affect the gastrointestinal system?
Around half of sufferers experience constipation and 30-50% experience bowel incontinence at one time.
MS can interrupt the messages sent to and from the brain that tell the body that it's time for bowel movement, meaning suffers can become constipated. MS can also affect the pelvic floor muscles by stopping them from relaxing (which helps your body get rid of stool).
Constipation can also be affected by a low intake of fluids,
reduced physical activity and mobility and slowed movement of food through the intestinal tract. The drugs that may be prescribed to help control bladder symptoms may also cause constipation.
People with MS may find that medications they take affect their bowel movements by giving them diarrhoea but this can also come from bad food or infections.
If the anal sphincter muscles are affected it can be harder for MS sufferers to hold in loose stool and therefore this can lead to incontinence problems.
These problems can be helped by doing pelvic floor exercise to improve bowel movements, increasing fluid intake, eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables throughout the day and increasing fibre intake.
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