Bottoms up: Why I’m drinking more water because of my MS

The daily practice can reduce fatigue, depression, and even 'gotta-go' moments

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by Ed Tobias |

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I’m drinking again, more than I have in years.

It’s not the hard stuff, though; not even beer or wine. It’s just plain water.

That may sound crazy for someone like me who has bladder problems due to multiple sclerosis (MS). For many of us with MS, we think that water is something to avoid — mostly so we can reduce those gotta-go, gotta-go moments that have us sprinting for a restroom.

But while it may seem logical that someone who has bladder urgency and frequency would want to decrease water intake, doctors say lowering the amount of water in the bladder may actually result in the opposite of the bladder control we’re trying to achieve.

Dr. Aaron Boster is one of them. On his YouTube channel, Boster says drinking water is important because your urine becomes too concentrated if you don’t. That concentrated urine irritates the bladder and can make it spasm, creating one of those gotta-go moments. Upping your water intake reduces the irritation and flushes out bacteria, which can cause urinary tract infections. Boster says it also decreases leg spasms, cramps, and fatigue while improving your mood.

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How much should you drink?

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends healthy women take in 91 ounces of total water (from all beverages and foods) every day. Men should receive 125 ounces. About 80% of that would come from liquids, with the rest from food. That works out to 72-100 ounces, or nine to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water, a day. That’s a lot of drinking, at least for me.

Boster suggests drinking five large glasses a day, one at each meal (not while eating, though) and one between each meal. I’ve been drinking four medium glasses, one when I wake up and brush my teeth, one at lunch, one at dinner, and one when I brush my teeth at night. This isn’t as much as I should, but it’s more than I used to drink and it seems to be working for me.

Water helps bowels, too

More water means a moister stool that’s easier to pass out of your body. For many years, it wasn’t unusual for me to go three or four days without a bowel movement. (Sorry if I’m oversharing.) But after boosting the water I drink — even just the small amount that I’ve been doing — I’ve become almost everyday regular.

Not only do I feel more comfortable when I’m regular, it also helps my bladder control. As my neurologist has explained to me, when someone is constipated, the expanded colon presses on the bladder. And guess what that causes? Bladder urgency.

With that urgency eased, not only do I need to rush to the loo less frequently during the day, but I can also sleep better. I used to wake up at least once a night, sometimes twice, for a bathroom trip. I now get six or seven straight hours most nights, and last night I got eight.

It’s still a tough ride

In addition to drinking more water, I’ve also changed to drinking decaf coffee, and I limit myself to one mug most mornings. I rarely drink beer, wine, or soda anymore.

But I still worry about water, especially when I’m traveling. If I set out for a drive of more than a couple of hours, I won’t drink anything until I get where I’m going, except a few sips. And I’m always concerned that my “bladder coaster” ride will unexpectedly kick in again.

With my new water routine — combined with using Myrbetriq (mirabegron), my most recent bladder medication — I think my bladder control is better than it’s been in years. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that most of my gotta-go moments have gone and went.

You’re invited to share your water experiences in the comments below and to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Ruth Hoaglin avatar

Ruth Hoaglin

I enjoyed your article about MS and WATER, I have MS with a super public catheter, things went good for quite a while now it's not I was told by my doctor to drink more water because my catheter hose that goes to my bag is starting to smell and cloud up with stuff and my bowels can go for a week then I empty a lot, for a few days after that I ooze out stool . Are the muscles getting to weak to hold the bowel? I need help getting on the toilet, I can't walk in a power wheel chair. I have had MS for 19 years.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Ruth,

I'm sorry you're having those problems but I'm afraid a solution is far beyond my pay grade. That's really something for you and your neuro or, perhaps, a colorectal specialist.

Ed

Reply
Jeff Fuller avatar

Jeff Fuller

Your words described me exactly up to 10-yrs ago (I was diagnosed with PPMS in 1995 and my bladder was getting worse from around y2000), then in 2014 (and since I was already quadriplegic living in an electric wheelchair) a urologist suggested an SP Tube Catheter, and then from day-1 .......... LIFE IS GREAT AGAIN!!!!!!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Jeff -

I've heard from others who have also had success with that method. I'm very glad it's brought you back to the "great" life.

Ed

Reply
Mody avatar

Mody

No comment & I’m still waiting for a treatment that improves the performance of my troubled bladder instead of just drinking water. I guess all patients are the same.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Mody,

I hope you find a medication that works. I didn't mention it in this column but I think that exercise can also help...particularly the core muscles.

Ed

Reply
Larry McAndrews avatar

Larry McAndrews

Reading this article is identical to my issues. I was put on Myrbetriq as we BP.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for your note, Larry. I hope it helps.

Ed

Reply
Charles Lee avatar

Charles Lee

Any thoughts related to cost of myrbetriq. My pharmacy wants over $300 per month for it. (I'm on medicare).

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Charles,

I'm also on Medicare but my Part-D mailorder pharmacy, OptumRX, sells it to me for $120 for a 3 months supply, so $40 a month. I think my neuro's office had a hand in obtaining that price and I may be paying the cost out of pocket, rather than going through Medicare.

Ed

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JOAN Virginia BONDIRA avatar

JOAN Virginia BONDIRA

Thanks for the info, Ed! Just wondered, do you normally have leg spasms, and if so, did the extra water help at all with that? Thanks again!

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Joan,

I used to get them in bed at night. My leg, usually the left one, would cramp and/or jerk. After some years baclofen didn't help it and I switched to gabapentin. That also didn't always help but I haven't cramps or jerks since I increased my water intake about a month ago. Just a coincidence? This is MS...so who knows.

Ed

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Tonya avatar

Tonya

Been drinking around 100 oz of water for around two months now! It’s working Great for me! Been diagnosed for 18 years now! Best of luck to everyone!

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Good for you, Tonya. Bottoms up!

Ed

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