Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that starts to eat away the protective covering of the body’s nerves. This results in nerve damage, which disrupts communication between the brain and the other parts of the body. As it majorly affects the bowel and bladder function, knowing the remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS) helps.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes many symptoms, which vary from person to person. However, it generally includes pain, fatigue, vision loss, etc. The disease also causes problems with your bladder and bowels. In fact, bladder dysfunction and bowel problems are some of the most common side effects of having multiple sclerosis. Nearly 80% of people who have this condition experience some form of bladder dysfunction and constipation is the most common type of bowel complaint experienced by these patients. So what are some of the remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple Sclerosis and Constipation
People suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) commonly complain about constipation. The reason why MS sufferers often also suffer from constipation is that the disease interrupts the messages which the nerves send to the brain to signal that it is time for a bowel movement. Multiple sclerosis (MS) also prevents the pelvic floor muscles from relaxing, thus stopping the body from getting rid of stool, causing constipation. Apart from this, MS also stops the natural increase in activity and motility of the colon that should normally occur after a meal.
Apart from the actual condition, a poor diet that lacks in sufficient amount of fiber, little exercise, and depression, all combine together to affect the digestive system. Often, medications and supplements that you take for managing MS are also known to cause constipation. But there are effective remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS).
Remedies to Combat Constipation In Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Constipation can be a major problem in multiple sclerosis. Taking appropriate measures can help fight many problems related to MS. Here are some of the most effective remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS).
Drink More Water
One of the best and simplest ways to stay healthy is to drink plenty of water. Drinking lots of water helps relieve constipation and is one of the best remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS). According to the recommendations of the Mayo Clinic, women should ideally be drinking 11.5 cups of fluids each day, while men should be having around 15.5 cups of fluids. While this is only an estimate, it should still give you an idea about the amount of water or fluids you should consume. In fact, even a lack of water can be the cause of your constipation. If you suffer from constipation, then drinking lukewarm water in the morning, immediately after waking up and also before bedtime could help you manage your constipation.
Increase your Fiber Intake
A diet rich in fiber can help you get relief from constipation. Increasing your intake of fiber also lowers your risk for heart disease and diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that men should get at least 38 grams of fiber in a day, while women should get at least 25 grams of fiber daily. The Association also recommends that getting your fiber from natural foods is the best way out. Some good sources of fiber include:
- Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat
- Vegetables such as broccoli, artichokes, and green leafy vegetables
- Nuts such as almonds and walnuts
- Legumes such as lentils, beans, and split peas
- Fresh fruits such as raspberries, bananas, and apples
- Fiber rich foods are some of the great remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS).
Fiber Supplements or Bulking Agents Might Help
If you are not too fond of vegetables or cooking a meal with whole grains seems a daunting task, then you can also turn to bulking agents for help. Fiber supplements too are some of the natural remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS). Also known as fiber supplements, bulking agents help increase the volume of stool, making it easier to have a bowel movement. Some of the common bulking agents available include:
- Benefiber (wheat dextrin)
- Citrucel (methylcellulose)
- FiberCon (polycarbophil)
- Metamucil (psyllium)
- Perdiem (psyllium and senna)
Most of these products instruct you to have the supplement mixed in one glass of water. For best results, try to take these bulking agents at night before going to sleep so that you can establish a regular pattern of bowel movement in the mornings.
Keep a Regular Exercising Schedule
It is important that you have a regular schedule for exercising. Exercise is known to help reduce constipation and is one of the most effective remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS). In fact, exercising regularly actually prevents constipation and improves digestion as well as metabolism. This is because exercise stimulates the muscles in your abdomen, which in turn, helps the movement in the colon, pushing out the stool. In fact, even daily abdominal massage is known to improve constipation. While fatigue and some symptoms of MS can make it difficult to exercise regularly, you can always start your schedule with some low impact exercises such as water aerobics or even brisk walking. Once you begin exercising, you will also find relief in fatigue and see improvement in mood as well.
Laxatives Can Provide Temporary Relief
While these are not a long-term solution, for temporary relief, laxatives can be a great option. However, keep in mind that the long-term use of laxatives is known to change the feeling and tone in the large intestine, causing dependency. This can ultimately mean that you be unable to have a bowel movement without having a laxative first. Laxatives are also great for speeding up the passage of your stool without causing any irritation to your intestines. Some laxatives are good remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS) and are best taken with medical advice.
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS) and suddenly start experiencing constipation, then you must inform your doctor. This is important because only your doctor will be able to tell why you have suddenly developed constipation. Unexplained weight loss, having blood in your stool, or severe pain while having a bowel movement, are all symptoms that should be informed to your doctor immediately. These remedies to combat constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS) can be helpful for mild constipation that is evaluated as a part of multiple sclerosis. However, if this does not show improvement, medical evaluation is necessary.
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