Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Multiple Sclerosis Constipation

Home care for constipation in those with multiple sclerosis includes:

  • Avoid foods that seem to give you constipation. Some cheeses, white flour, and white rice can trigger constipation.
  • Avoid straining on the toilet, this can cause hemorrhoids and complicate things further.
  • Don't ignore the urge to move your bowels -- this can throw off your schedule and cause you problems.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat more fiber.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Try mild caffeine-containing beverages. These often have a mild laxative effect.

A high fiber diet helps most people with constipation. Fiber works by increasing the amount of stool in your colon (large intestine). The most well known fiber is bran. Common fiber supplements include Citrucel and Metamucil. Regular use of these high-fiber products is safe. They are also more effective when used regularly. Drink plenty of water when taking extra fiber.

General Dietary Guidelines
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber. Check food labels of prepared products to see if there are at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Look for the term 'whole grain' as a major part of the food.

Raw foods tend to have more fiber than cooked, canned or pureed items. Even chopping and peeling skins removes some fiber. Dried fruits are especially high in fiber. Beans, black-eyed peas, brans and oatmeal are very high in fiber.

Unprocessed wheat bran can be added to many home meals and most baked foods. Bran is the outer layer of the wheat grain, and is present in 'whole grain' foods. Adding 2-3 teaspoons of bran per serving is a great way to increase the fiber content of casseroles, meat loaf, and baked goods. Whole grain flour has 6 times the fiber of standard, bleached flour. Oat bran can be used in place of about 1/3 of regular flour when baking.

Try adding nuts or bran to dairy foods such as yogurt or cottage cheese, which normally have very little fiber. Avoid white bread and flour pasta.

Change your diet slowly and drink plenty of fluids to allow the fiber to do its work. Rapid changes in the diet can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. A varied, high-fiber diet is much better than taking fiber supplements.

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Last Updated: Mar 26, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Multiple Sclerosis References
  1. Filippini G, Munari L, Incorvaia B, Ebers GC, Polman C, D'Amico R, Rice GP. Interferons in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis: a systematic review. Lancet. 2003 Feb 15;361(9357):545-52. [12598138]
  2. Kahana E. Epidemiologic studies of multiple sclerosis: a review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2000 Mar;54(2):100-2. [10759294]
  3. Poser CM, Brinar VV. Diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis: an historical review. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2004 Jun;106(3):147-58. [15177763]
  4. Sorensen PS. Treatment of multiple sclerosis with intravenous immunoglobulin: review of clinical trials. Neurol Sci. 2003 Oct;24 Suppl 4:S227-30. [14598048]
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