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Falls: managing the ups and downs of MS Continence problems

Bladder and bowel problems are quite common in MS. Bladder problems include needing to empty the bladder more frequently or more urgently than usual.

As well as potentially having an impact on well-being, the urge to rush to the toilet may make people more hurried and less careful than usual and so result in falls.

Some people with MS may become so concerned about the potential embarrassment of incontinence that they stop going out in case of accidents, which limits their enjoyment of life and can lead to reduced fitness levels.

It is worth remembering that there are a number of possible causes for bladder or bowel problems and that some may not be the result of MS. A GP, MS nurse or continence advisor should be able to assess the cause of symptoms and suggest appropriate treatment.

What to do:

  • If you are at work and often need to get to the toilet quickly, ask your employer if you can have a work station nearer to the toilets. Also consider seats closer to the toilets when you go to the cinema or to a restaurant
  • If you have little warning about needing to go to the toilet, try to be aware of how your bladder or bowel react. For instance, if you find that you usually need to go to the toilet about half an hour after having a drink, try to be prepared for that
  • Consider getting a RADAR key from your local authority. For a small one-off charge this allows you to use around 7,000 locked public toilets around the country
  • See the Disability Rights UK website
  • Consider carrying one of the MS Society's 'Can't Wait Cards', so that you can jump the queue if necessary
  • Order from the MS Society website
  • There are numerous continence products available for people with bladder and bowel problems, which can make you feel more confident when out and about. Even carrying spare underwear in your bag or pocket can help in emergencies. The charity the Bladder & Bowel Foundation has information on products
  • See the Bladder & Bowel Foundation website
  • Don't assume continence problems are an inevitable part of having MS. Many problems can be successfully managed with help from your GP, MS nurse or continence advisor

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