Why is bladder function affected in Multiple Sclerosis?
MS affects the bladder function due to lesions that delay or block transmission of nerve signals in the spinal cord and brain that control the urinary bladder and sphincter. The urinary bladder is where urine is stored. The sphincter is the muscle that allows the urine to flow or to be held.
How is the urinary tract affected in Multiple Sclerosis?
Spastic 'Failure to Store' Bladder
- Symptoms of having a "failure to store" or spastic bladder include: frequency, urgency, frequent night time urination and incontinence (loss of control or leakage of urine).
- The bladder is overly active with contractions releasing frequent, small amounts of urine and creating the sensation of an urgent need to urinate.
- Usually, this type of bladder problem can be managed through medications that help relax the bladder muscle, thus decreasing the need to urinate frequently.
Flacid 'Failure to Empty' Bladder
- Symptoms of the "failure to empty" bladder are: frequency, urgency, hesitancy (inability to start a steam of urine) and frequent urinary tract infection.
- This bladder problem results in retaining urine due to poor sensation of bladder fullness. Another factor is the sphincter can be effected causing the bladder not to be able to empty on demand.
- Management of this condition usually involves intermittent self catheterization. This is a process where a small tube (catheter) is placed in the bladder temporarily to empty the bladder.
It's important to discuss bladder issues and other symptoms with your healthcare team so that treatment can be provided. Bladder dysfunction can be controlled through proper management. Left untreated, urinary issues can be very embarrassing and keep a person from interacting socially. Urinary tract infections that are not treated can cause serious medical issues, as well as, an increase in MS symptoms.