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Bowel Dysfunction


In this article


Bowel symptoms can occur in people with MS with constipation being the most common. Constipation is important to manage because it can increase other symptoms including:

The psychosocial implications for bowel dysfunction are:

  • Discomfort
  • Embarrassment
  • Society isolation
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Anxiety about leaving the house, being around other people


Symptom: Constipation


  • Bowel training; adequate fluid intake; high-fiber diet; physical activity
  • Polyethylene glycol, psyllium, docusate, bisacodyl

Symptom: Fecal impaction


  • Manual disimpaction

Symptom: Diarrhea

Diarrhea is not usually associated with MS. Other causes need to be considered.


  • Disimpaction and relief of constipation
  • Added fiber

Symptom: Fecal incontinence


  • Bowel training program
  • Anticholinergic medication (for hyperreflexic bowel)
  • Antidiarrheal medication

Resources for clinicians

Resources for patients


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