MS Symptoms and Drinking
You may not want to drink enough fluids due to a fear of urinary incontinence. It is critical for your health, that you do not let worries about incontinence take precedence over consuming enough fluids. You must drink, even if you are incontinent.
Dehydration will make you feel poorly, decrease your resistance to disease, and put you at risk of complications. Adequate fluid intake is needed for your skin to stay healthy, to fight urinary and other types of infections, and keep respiratory secretions thin so that you may get rid of them easily. If you get an infection, your body will be stressed, your MS symptoms will intensify, and your energy will decrease further.
If you have a hard time drinking liquids ask your health care provider to refer you to a speech and language therapist for a swallowing evaluation. A speech and language therapist can evaluate your swallowing difficulties, and make recommendations based upon his or her findings. You may need to add a thickener to liquids so that you can swallow them without difficulty. Exercises may help you to maintain the strength and coordination of your muscles used for swallowing, and medications may be beneficial as well.
If you suffer from constipation, bloating, and gas you may not to want to eat due to feelings of fullness. Additionally, some people try to limit their intake if bowel incontinence is a problem. As with urinary incontinence, do not let the fear of bowel incontinence prevent you from enjoying food and obtaining the nutrients that you need.
To combat bloating and constipation, drink fluids. Try to obtain a minimum of 35 grams of fiber each day. If you cannot obtain this amount from your diet, check with you health care provider regarding fiber supplements, stool softeners, and other means to ensure regular bowel movements.
Let your health care provider know if constipation is an issue. Sometimes constipation is caused by medication. If you use narcotic pain medications to manage discomfort, you are at a higher risk of developing constipation. There are fast-acting medications available which relieve constipation related to the use of narcotics.
Malabsorption Problems and MS
Some studies indicate that over 40 percent of people who have MS suffer from malabsorption problems. Their bodies cannot break down, absorb, and utilize nutrients from food efficiently. Loose stools, constipation and deficiency diseases may result.
Malabsorption problems are treated preventatively and symptomatically. A good quality multivitamin mineral supplement is essential. Vitamins B12, C, and E are especially beneficial if you have MS. Supplementation with essential fatty acids in the form of fish, flax, borage, evening primrose, or hemp seed oils is important. These oils enhance mood, reduce inflammation and offer a wide array of healing benefits for your body.
Eating Challenges with Advanced MS
If your disease is advanced, you may not have much energy to chew your food or tremors may make it difficult prepare meals or feed yourself. You may suffer from visual changes or impaired concentration.
If these occur, consult with your health care team. A wide array of tools are available which make eating easier and more enjoyable, assistive devices make the handling of utensils easier, and medications that boost the appetite are available. Plus, you can make some simple changes to recipes to turn them into 'MS recipes' that will be easier to eat.
What Does This Mean for Me?
If you have MS and are not experiencing any appetite or eating problems, that is fabulous! However, if you are experiencing issues, it is important to address them. Appetite, eating, and health are all interconnected.
Be aware that you are not alone. Every year new strategies and tools are available to assist with eating and meal preparation. They aid the conservation of energy and make eating more enjoyable. Stay informed and be willing to seek help as needed. Save your energy and be adaptable.
You have options. Help is available.