An open dialogue about coexisting symptoms is an essential for building a foundation for better clinical outcomes and increased quality of life.
Bladder and bowel dysfunctions often appear together. The impact of these dysfunctions upon the quality of life for people with neurogenic diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), is huge. It is common for bladder and bowel symptoms to coexist and interact, an aspect seldom taken into consideration. These organs are neighbors in both a mechanical and neurological sense, and it's time to explore a more holistic approach for the benefit of patients.
Bladder and bowel interactions
Interactions caused by a range of physical factors can include:
- A full bowel that applies pressure on the bladder
- Congenital malformations
- Reduced function of the pelvic floor due to childbirth
Continence and evacuation are controlled centrally in the brain. Local neurological control is also developed in such a way that interactions occur, due to its embryological origin.
...if I had the choice to either walk again or get back the use of my bowel and bladder, I would rather have the use of my bowel and bladder and use a wheelchair the rest of my life and never walk again.
An open and honest conversation is a win-win!
It is of the utmost importance to remove the surrounding stigma by talking openly about these conditions. This is the most effective way of finding more tailored and effective treatment options for the patient. When either a bladder or bowel symptom is eased, there is usually corresponding relief in the other as well. Exploring a new, combined approach to treatment can deliver major improvement in both clinical outcome and quality of life for the patient.