Urinary Incontinence in Multiple Sclerosis Patients
Sometimes, side effects stay in the shadows because they are deemed too embarrassing to talk about. However, they are important to acknowledge as they impact the lives of many.
Urinary incontinence and MS
While not normally discussed as one of the major symptoms of multiple sclerosis, urinary incontinence is actually extremely common in those who have the disease. Bladder dysfunction in general impacts at least 80 percent of people with MS, and incontinence is often one of the resulting issues.
Bladder dysfunction occurs in those with MS when lesions get in the way of the transmission of nerve signals in the sections of the central nervous system that are responsible for controlling the bladder and urinary sphincters. So, bladders can become spastic or overactive, so holding the regular amount of urine becomes impossible. The bladder also may not be able to fully empty, which is when incontinence occurs.
If left untreated, incontinence can worsen other MS symptoms like weakness and spasticity. It can also prompt bladder or urinary tract infections, or even kidney stones - all of which can cause debilitating pain and impact overall health. When these symptoms become serious enough, challenges at work or at home can arise, and independence and self-esteem can be damaged.
If you are suffering from incontinence, it is important to seek treatment. First, medical evaluation is necessary, and should be done at the earliest possible convenience as these issues will be easier to treat at an early stage. If left untreated for lengthened amounts of time, it can cause infections in the blood, and even the skin, which can lead to a higher fatality rate in those with MS.
Normally, the most effective ways to manage bladder symptoms are actually to make slight lifestyle changes such as changing your diet, drinking more water, and even training your bladder to make it stronger.
If there is damage to your pelvic floor, physical therapy can be done to strengthen the muscles near the pelvic bone to fight against incontinence.
If medication becomes necessary, there are many on the market that you can discuss with your doctor.
In order to understand what it is truly like to suffer from urinary incontinence with multiple sclerosis, it is necessary to listen to the first hand account of someone who has been through it. Lisa Emrich bravely shared her story of an instance of urinary incontinence, and many with multiple sclerosis silently relate.
Read on for Lisa's story. Can you relate?