WellSpan Home

Stroke: Bladder and Bowel Problems

Topic Overview

Urinary incontinence

Some people who have a stroke suffer loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) after the stroke. But this is usually temporary. And it can have many causes, including infection, constipation, and the effects of medicines.

If you have problems controlling your bladder, your doctor may:

  • Test a urine sample to see if you have an infection.
  • Do tests to see how you urinate, which can help you and your doctor decide what treatment might work best for you.
  • Help you develop a schedule of regular bathroom use that fits your abilities.
  • Suggest that you wear protective clothing or a pad.
  • Prescribe medicines, depending on the cause of your bladder problems.

Some things you can do to prevent bladder leakage include:

  • Emptying your bladder at regular intervals, including when you first wake up and at bedtime.
  • Controlling your liquid intake, such as drinking liquids at regular intervals and limiting fluid intake after dinner.

Urinary retention

You may have trouble emptying your bladder completely (urinary retention). Urinary retention is common, especially right after a stroke, but it usually improves over time.

If you have urinary retention problems, your doctor may:

  • Place a tube (catheter) into your bladder to prevent too much urine from building up. This is used only if absolutely needed. (For more information, see the topic Urinary Incontinence in Men or Urinary Incontinence in Women.)
  • Have you avoid medicines with certain side effects that cause the bladder to retain urine.
  • Prescribe medicines, depending on the cause of your bladder problems.
  • Test a urine sample to see if you have an infection (common with urinary retention problems).

Constipation

Stroke by itself does not cause constipation. But constipation often occurs after a stroke because you are not drinking enough liquids, are in bed most of the time, or are taking certain medicines as part of your treatment. If your constipation is severe, stool can become lodged (impacted) in the bowel.

If you are concerned about any of your symptoms, call your doctor before you try home treatment. Constipation can be treated at home.

If you are constipated:

  • Drink extra liquids, especially water.
  • Set a regular time for using the toilet.

If you continue to have problems with constipation, your doctor may recommend a bulking agent (such as Metamucil), a stool softener, or regular use of a laxative or enema.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Winstein CJ, et al. (2016). Guidelines for adult stroke rehabilitation and recovery: A guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, published online May 4, 2016. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000098. Accessed June 3, 2016.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRichard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×