How can I relieve constipation from multiple sclerosis (MS)?

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Constipation is by far the most common issue in both the general population and people with multiple sclerosis (MS). As one ages, the motility in the intestines is slowed down, with decreased contractions and a reduced ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals, as well as a reduced tolerance of certain foods. Constipation can be exacerbated by the lack of mobility, weak abdominal muscles and inadequate hydration (although hydration must be balanced with bladder issues, and finding a balance can be challenging).

Certain medications can also cause constipation, including narcotics, iron, calcium, antidepressants, and anticholinergic agents. Constipation can also be related to other medical causes such as hypothyroidism, colon cancer and diverticular disease. 

It also is important to gently accustom your body to a healthy bowel routine. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. Eat high fiber foods and avoid foods that contain a lot of fat. Exercise is also helpful; check with your doctor first to see what level of activity they recommend.

If those methods fail to help, you may need to consult a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in problems of the stomach and intestine, among other areas.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.