How many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) do you think use catheters? The Center of Disease Control estimates that there are 400,000 people in the US living with MS, and more than 100,000 of them rely on catheters. According to a study done by doctors at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, more than a quarter of patients with MS have either previously used or currently use catheters.
Intermittent straight catheter usage can make a world of difference for some MS patients, especially for those who experience bladder dysfunction. Almost 80% of people with MS also experience urinary problems. MS lesions can either block or delay the transmissions of nerve signals in the areas of the central nervous system that control the urinary sphincter and bladder. There are two distinct types of bladder problems that affect MS patients: over-active bladder and incomplete bladder drainage. Both problems can cause extreme discomfort in patients, and incomplete bladder drainage can make some patients more prone to re-occurring urinary tract infections.
Catheterization has an array of medical benefits for the patient, and can significantly improve their quality of life. They prevent the bladder from overfilling, eliminate residual urine, and help prevent urinary infections. Some MS patients are reluctant to use catheters because they worry about discomfort. Modern disposable catheters have come a long way since their invention in the 1940s. Catheters are made from a variety of polymers that are designed to be soft, pliant, and comfortable for the user. Many catheters are small and easily concealable; they can easily fit in a small bag or even a pocket.
Catheter usage paired with proper medication and regular doctor visits can do a lot to improve urinary health. If you'd like to learn more about bladder management for MS patients, visit the National MS Society's website for helpful information and tips on maintaining good urinary health.