Around 10,000 people living in Switzerland suffer from multiple sclerosis. The functioning of internal organs like the intestine and urinary bladder can also be affected by multiple sclerosis. A functional disorder of the urinary tract is common; after ten years with the disease, almost all patients have a urological problem requiring assessment and treatment. Consequently, regular neurourological care is advisable for patients even in the early stage of the disease, but this becomes absolutely essential when dysfunction occurs at the very latest.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. The precise causes have not yet been isolated. Researchers believe that the immune system identifies nerve tissue as a foreign body and attacks it accordingly. Particularly affected are the nerve sheaths which, in a similar way to the insulation on an electric cable, protect the nerve cords from the surrounding tissue. These sheaths are attacked by the body itself; this results in an inflammation and later to the formation of scars on nerve tracts, meaning that nerve signals can no longer be passed on, or only at a slower speed. This leads to dysfunctioning muscles and organs. It is mostly young adults who contract MS, with twice as many women affected as men. The disease can advance progressively or in stages, in many cases evolving over decades. Around 10,000 people living in Switzerland suffer from multiple sclerosis. Roughly one new case of MS is diagnosed every day.
The functioning of internal organs like the intestine and urinary bladder can be affected by multiple sclerosis. For 15% of patients, a dysfunctional bladder is the first symptom of MS. A functional disorder of the urinary tract may also be the only symptom in an otherwise healthy MS sufferer. After ten years with the disease, almost all patients have a urological problem that requires treatment. Urological complications like frequent infection of the urinary tract are possible triggers for the disease to advance. But an untreated bladder disorder can also have a negative effect on other symptoms of the disease, such as spasticity and fatigue. The bladder disorder can express itself in the early phase as frequent urination during the day and at night, a greater urge to urinate and urge incontinence; this is often known as an overactive or spastic bladder. As the disease progresses, further difficulties frequently arise with urination, which can lead to an incomplete emptying of the bladder with residual urine through to urinary retention. Both urine storage and urine expulsion are thus affected after a while. Functional disorders of the bladder can also cause recurring infections of the urinary tract; frequent urination at night can lead to sleep disorders; and cramping of the bladder muscles can result in pain in the lower abdomen. The symptoms may change over time; a sudden increase in multiple sclerosis is often followed by a progression in the miction dysfunction.
The assessment and treatment of bladder dysfunction with MS helps to avoid complications and long-term damage, thus preventing bladder and kidney infections, effectively treat bladder and incontinence complaints and hence maintain or restore the quality of life. Consequently, regular neurourological care is advisable for patients even in the early stage of the disease, but this becomes absolutely essential when dysfunction occurs at the very latest.