Motor Neurone Disease And Incontinence - Is It A Common Symptom?

We explore the link between MND and incontinence to help raise awareness and provide support to those who may experience this symptom.

Motor Neurone Disease And Incontinence - Is It A Common Symptom?

We explore the link between MND and incontinence to help raise awareness and provide support to those who may experience this symptom.

motor neurone disease and incontinence

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a term used to describe a group of diseases that affect nerve cells called motor neurones.

These motor neurons normally transport messages from the brain to muscles via the spinal cord to perform functions like walking, swallowing, talking and even breathing. In people with MND, the nerves become damaged and start to die off and the communication between brain to muscles breaks down. Then the muscles will begin to weaken and waste away, and those bodily functions we mentioned start to become difficult and eventually impossible.

Further to this, 50 per cent of people with MND can experience changes in cognition, language, behaviour and personality. It’s important to note that most people with MND experience relatively mild changes.

Sadly, the life expectancy following an MND diagnosis is between one and five years, with 10% of cases living 10 years or more.

motor neurone disease and incontinence

Causes and symptoms of MND

As for what causes MND, there’s no single contributor. Research has found risk factors could include:

  • Exposure to certain viruses, toxins and chemicals

  • Genetic factors

  • Inflammation and damage to neurons caused by immune system response

  • Growth, repair and ageing of motor neurons

On top of those mentioned earlier, some of the most common symptoms of MND include:

  • Muscle weakness, cramps, pain and spasms

  • Unsteadiness and/or stumbling

  • Weakness in hands, arms, legs and voice

  • Slurred speech

  • Cognitive changes

  • Respiratory changes and/or difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss and muscle loss

  • Emotional lability – for example, a slight inconvenience or upset can cause an exaggerated response, such as crying or laughing

While it may not be considered a common symptom of MND, incontinence can occur in some cases. We explain more below!

motor neurone disease and incontinence

Motor neurone disease and incontinence

While MND doesn’t directly cause incontinence, it can affect continence indirectly because related muscle and organ functions (bladder and bowel) can change.

While this won’t happen in every case of MND, some may experience severe damage to the muscles and nerves in or around the bladder and bowel, which can cause episodes of incontinence. Changes to the muscle and nerve function may also result in constipation.

The muscle weakness caused by MND can also result in reduced mobility, which can make getting to the toilet in time more difficult.

It’s estimated that 80% of people with MND will need to use a wheelchair at some point following their diagnosis. Others may spend a lot of time in bed or in a chair. This change to a person’s mobility can mean they require support from a carer to go to the toilet, among other daily functions.  

motor neurone disease and incontinence

What to do if you experience incontinence

First things first, discuss your incontinence with your doctor to get professional advice and recommendations based on your stage of MND.

If you have a carer, they can assist you in creating a plan that will help you to make it to the toilet in time and/or opt for continence management products to help manage any leaks.

Our range of pads and guards, pull-up pants, and all-in-one slips cater to varying levels of incontinence and mobility needs. If you or your carer needs any assistance in which to select, you can take our simple but comprehensive Help Me Choose quiz. This will suggest your best-suited products based on the information provided.

Alternatively, you can call, Whatsapp, online chat or email our team of product specialists who can talk you through your options. Find out how to contact us.

Remember, incontinence is extremely common (it affects 1 in 4 Aussies!) and you are not alone. We are here to help make your journey easier and as comfortable as possible.

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