Types Of Stomach Problems From Anxiety
What’s interesting about anxiety stomach problems is that they may occur at different times for different people. Some people get stomach problems only during severe anxiety attacks. Others get these problems all throughout the day but know that they suffer from intense anxiety.
The following represent the most common types of “stomach problems” from anxiety. Remember, people often use the word stomach to also include bowels, colloquially.
How To Get Bowel Movements Back To Normal
- Drink more fluids. Make sure you get enough water every day. You might be tempted to cut back on it if your MS gives you bladder problems. But that makes constipation worse. Make your first beverage of the day something hot, such as hot water or apple cider, or drink 1/2 to 1 cup of prune juice in the morning to get things moving.
- Get more fiber. The best way is to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain breads and cereals. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to hot or cold cereal or casseroles, or mix it with applesauce, pancake batter, pudding, muffin batter, milkshakes, or cookie dough. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids, which help the bran work inside you. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a fiber supplement.
- Stick to a schedule. Set a regular time when youâll go to the bathroom. Try going right after meals since eating is a natural way to prompt a bowel movement. Try to wait no more than 2 to 3 days between bowel movements.
- Exercise. Itâs a great way to get your digestive tract going.
- Use stool softeners. But only if your doctor says it’s OK.
Managing Constipation With Ms
Fortunately, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to manage constipation when you have MS, along with consulting your doctor. These include making sure that you have:
A balanced diet
If you eat a balanced diet with lots of fiber it will help your bowel movements regularly. There are certain foods which can help relieve mild constipation, including:
Seeds and nuts
If you have severe constipation, the fiber in some foods such as unprocessed bran could lead to uncomfortable bloating, so it is important to consult your doctor.
Plenty of water
It is important to remember that your daily fluid requirements will increase when you increase your fiber.
If you have MS bladder problems you may consciously or subconsciously reduce your fluid intake. Some people find that coffee helps to activate the bowel, but caffeine can irritate your bladder and is a diuretic so dont rely on coffee for your fluid intake.
If you have MS spasticity or MS fatigue you may have become less active, and that cause constipation. But it is vital that you incorporate exercise into your daily routine as this improves many MS symptoms, including constipation. Exercise will stimulate your abdominal muscles that in turn stimulate movement in the colon.
A medication review with your doctor
Some medication can cause constipation, including:
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Researchers May Have Discovered A Cause Of Multiple Sclerosis
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that causes damage to the substance that covers nerve cells. This interrupts normal communication between nerves, leading to problems with movement, speech, and other functions. We dont know what causes MS but we think it is an autoimmune disease.
Research Suggests That Head Trauma Might Trigger Ms
This research included more than 7,000 people with MS and compared them with more than 70,000 people who were similar in other ways but who did not have MS. Investigators looked for a history of physician-diagnosed concussion prior to age 20. It was important to determine whether any type of traumatic injury, or a concussion specifically, could be the link. So, researchers also assessed whether the study subjects had ever broken a bone in the upper or lower extremities prior to age 20.
Heres what they found:
- Those who had suffered a single concussion between the ages of 10 and 20 had a 22% higher rate of MS than those who had never had a concussion.
- The rate of MS was more than doubled for those who had experienced more than one concussion.
- There was no connection between broken bones in the arms or legs and the risk of MS.
A study of this type cannot prove that a potential trigger actually caused the condition of interest . We can only say there is a possible link. We might later learn that the connection isnt between concussions and MS at all, but rather some other factor that is more common among those with head injuries.
Still, these findings are hard to ignore and could represent one more reason we should all be concerned about head injuries to the developing brain.
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How To Manage Ms Fatigue
It can be useful to learn to recognise the early signs of fatigue and how it affects you. Likewise, talking with family, friends and/or colleagues may help them understand any limitations.
MS fatigue often results from secondary factors, such as co-existing medical conditions, poor diet, lack of fitness or sleep, medication side effects, stress, depression, hormonal changes or heat sensitivity. Identifying any contributing factors, should help you to develop a tailored management plan.
Fatigue management strategies include:
- Stay active exercises to increase your stamina and strength may be useful.
- Monitor sleep patterns and address any issues.
- Manage other contributing MS symptoms, such as depression.
- Rest/take breaks.
- Vary heavy with lighter tasks for example, if you have more fatigue in the afternoon, do harder jobs in the morning.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that can affect the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It can result in a range of symptoms and functional impairments.
MS symptoms are varied and unpredictable, depending on which part of the central nervous system is affected, and to what degree. It is important to remember that some people may not have many symptoms at all. Symptoms may last for a short time or only occur during the short period of a relapse, depending on the affected areas and the degree of inflammation present.
Symptoms can be a combination of changes in:
The symptoms of MS can be both visible and invisible to others. They can also be unpredictable and vary from person to person and from time to time. Symptoms can also interact with each other and other co-occurring conditions or diagnoses.
The key goals in managing MS are to:
- minimise relapses
- slow down brain atrophy at all stages of the disease
- restore function
- minimise the impact of symptoms on your day-to-day life.
See your doctor or specialist MS healthcare team for investigation and diagnosis of any new symptoms, as some symptoms can be caused by other illnesses or may be indicative of a relapse.
Watch this MS Australia animation about the invisible symptoms of MS.
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What Are Bowel Problems
The most common bowel symptoms in MS are:
- constipation and problems emptying the bowel
- incontinence or lack of control over bowel opening, leading to bowel accidents.
It is not uncommon for people with MS to experience both constipation and incontinence at the same time. Less often MS might cause diarrhoea or loose bowel movements.
If your bowel problems are affecting your life, if things have changed or you’re worried, don’t hesitate to contact your health professional. It might be time to contact them if:
- you’ve noticed any changes in bowel habits, for instance if you’re going to the toilet more or less often
- you spend a long time trying to empty your bowels but without success
- if your stools have changed it might be harder or softer or have changed colour
- if there is blood in your faeces, prolonged diarrhoea or constipation, or unexplained weight loss
- if you have to rush to the toilet
- if you have no control over when your bowels open
- if you leak faeces without being aware of it.
Muscle And Mobility Problems
Another culprit for low back pain in MS is related to issues stemming from immobility. For instance, if a person with MS is using their cane or another mobility-assistive device improperly, low back pain may develop.
In order to compensate for an MS-related issue like a numb or tingling leg or foot, a person’s gait may be impaired, or they may distribute their weight unnaturally, which can put a strain on the lower back. Sitting in a wheelchair all day can also put undue pressure on one’s back.
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What Causes Bowel Problems
Bowel control is an extremely complex process that involves the coordination of many different nerves and muscles. Bowel problems in MS occur as a result of the disruption of messages between the brain and various parts of the digestive system. This causes problems with sensation in the back passage and control of the muscles at the bottom of the anus, resulting in problems such as constipation and incontinence.
Bowel problems can also be made worse by other MS symptoms such as fatigue and spasticity. For example, fatigue might lead you to become less active which may slow the movement of waste through your colon. Similarly, spasticity may affect muscle control and tone which may make going to the toilet more difficult.
Not all bowel symptoms are caused by MS, they can also be caused by other factors such as side effects of medication you’re taking, your diet, how much you exercise, and other health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
How Is Gastroparesis Diagnosed
Primary care physicians and some gastroenterologists tend to underdiagnose gastroparesis, according to experts at the Cleveland Clinic. The disease is often misdiagnosed as heartburn, an allergic reaction, or an ulcer. It can take an average of five years after symptoms begin for a proper diagnosis, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders .
Members of MyMSTeam express frustration at the delays in their diagnoses. Nobody suggested this could be a complication of MS. I recently learned of this possible connection and am still wondering why Im the first person on my MS team to be aware of it, complained one member.
Another fought with her doctors for answers. They told me I didnt have gastroparesis even as the headaches and nausea got worse, I could only tolerate water and sweets, and I lost 36 pounds. Finally, I took my health records to a surgeon who ordered an updated test and found that the gastroparesis had worsened.
Gastroparesis is typically diagnosed with a gastric emptying study. This exam involves eating a light meal that contains a small bit of radioactive material, followed by an abdominal scan that monitors the food as it leaves the stomach.
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Other Causes For Tummy Troubles
- Stress is a well-known factor for stomach upset, so you might want to consider whether youve had to manage a crisis recently or have untreated anxiety
- People who carry extra weight are more likely to experience reflux, as well. In addition, recent studies show MS may progress and worsen in those who have a higher body-mass index.4
- Another consideration: MS is a disease that causes muscle spasms. It may be that the lesion activity unique to you is having an impact on signals between the central nervous system and the digestive system. This is known as neurogenic bowel dysfunction.5 Irritable Bowel Syndrome is another condition of the digestive system found to be more common in people with MS than in the general population.
- Sometimes you can also experience persistent hiccups, which are related to MS-linked spasms in the diaphragm that may be due to damage to the phrenic or vagus nerves.6
- Finally, medications to treat MS and its symptoms are well known to have adverse side effects that include heartburn, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.7 Other medications that can slow down the emptying of the stomach include opioids, some antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and allergy medications.8
Water And Fiber Intake
Youve probably heard that you should drink six to eight glasses of water per day. Drink even more than that. Not only will that keep you hydrated, itll keep your stool softer and help transport it through your intestines.
Additionally, eating more fiber is always a first-line recommendation when experiencing constipation. Youll need to drink more water when you up your fiber in order to keep everything moving properly. Many American diets are severely lacking in fiber. The recommended daily fiber intake is 25 to 30 grams per day. Pay attention to food labels and count your typical fiber intake. Increase it if you fall short of that level.
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What To Do When You Have Stomach Problems From Anxiety
While the best way for you to stop your stomach problems is to cure your anxiety, there are some strategies that you can try to implement that may reduce some of the symptoms. These include:
- Breathing Exercises There are relaxation exercises that focus on the idea of breathing more efficiently. When your stomach problems are caused by hyperventilation or air swallowing, slow and controlled breathing can be not only calming but also reduce the likelihood of further air swallowing symptoms.
- Healthier Diet Even though anxiety is going to create some stomach problems no matter what you eat, the reality is that foods that are hard to digest are always going to put some strain and stress on your stomach. When combined with anxiety, they’ll be more likely to get much worse. Healthier eating can be a much more effective way to ensure that you aren’t suffering from as many stomach problems.
- Exercise Exercise can temporarily create more stomach problems because exercise increases stomach acid. But eventually, exercise should help you control your anxiety better, and possibly improve your hormonal balance. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, providing far more benefits than simply muscle mass and a healthy heart.
Constipation And Fecal Incontinence
The most prevalent chronic digestive symptom in those with MS is constipation, affecting about half of those with MS.6 Individuals who experience constipation have infrequent bowel movements that are difficult to pass, and often accompanied by significant bowel pain and bloating. Constipation is so common because it can result from the interruption in nerve communication in MS, but it can also result from inadequate water or fibre intake due to dysphagia or mobility problems.
Also known as bowel incontinence, fecal incontinence is when an individual is unable to control bowel movements. It can vary in severity from anal leakage to having a complete bowel movement. Fecal incontinence sometimes involves a feeling of urgency, but other times it can come on without warning. Like constipation, it usually occurs due to problems with the communication between the CNS and the gut. Fecal incontinence is rare, affecting only about 2% of the general population, but up to 50% of those with MS experience it at some point, and 25% experience it as an ongoing symptom.6
Many individuals with MS experience both constipation and fecal incontinence, often swinging between these two extremes. These symptoms can be devastating, as it can be difficult to work, have a social life, or even run errands, if you are in pain from constipation or worried about loss of bowel control.
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Living With Ms: Everything You Need To Know About Poop
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Bowel problems and MS
Its well-known in the multiple sclerosis community that bowel issues are common for those living with the disease. According to the National MS Society, constipation is the most common bowel complaint among people with MS, affecting an estimated 29 to 43 percent of individuals .
Many MSers arent able to rid themselves of potential toxins at least not in a timely or comfortable fashion. Im one of those and the search for answers led me to co-author a book on the subject, candidly titled, Bowel and Bladder Issues with Multiple Sclerosis by Two Pee Brains With Potty Mouths Talking Shit About MS.
So, why is this something so many people with MS deal with and how can you cope with it? Here are some insights that may help.
There are several factors at play here: neurological damage, medication, insufficient water intake, and limited physical activity. Lets take a look at each of those factors.
How To Control Diarrhea
- Drink more liquids to make up for what your body is losing. Try water, lemonade or fruit-flavored drinks, fruit or vegetable juice, broth, milk, or soup.
- Talk with your doctor or dietitian about how much fiber you should eat.
- Eat soft foods that have a lot of liquid, such as sherbet, yogurt, and pudding.
- Ask your doctor whether changing your medications might help relieve the diarrhea. But donât try to take less or stop taking them before you talk to them.
- Don’t take over-the-counter drugs for diarrhea without talking to your doctor.
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