Bowel problems - constipation and incontinence - are common symptoms in multiple sclerosis, and are probably under-reported.
With the right support in place, most bowel symptoms can be resolved.
Although estimates vary about the number of people with multiple sclerosis who are affected by bowel symptoms, it is believed that around half of all people with MS will be affected at some stage.
Common bowel symptoms in multiple sclerosis include:
- constipation and problems emptying the bowel;
- faecal incontinence or lack of control over bowel opening
It is not uncommon for people with MS to experience both constipation and faecal incontinence at the same time.
Bowel control is an extremely complex process that involves the coordination of many different nerves and muscles. For people with MS, bowel and bladder symptoms have been frequently linked to lower limb dysfunction. This means that problems with mobility are often accompanied by bladder and bowel symptoms presenting addtional management difficulties.
Help with bowel management
Continence advisors or continence nursing services deal specifically with bladder and bowel symptoms. Your GP will be able to tell you how to contact your local service. The Bladder and Bowel Community has a helpline staffed by continence advisors - 0800 031 5412.
How does MS cause bowel and bladder issues?
Watch this video on a Q&A about common bowel and bladder issues which are related to MS.