Yes, constipation is a reality for many ataxians. It can have multiple
causes, some of which have been mentioned already. Regular bowel movements
depend on several things (do add on if I miss some). In Dr. Perlman’s 2007
NAF conference presentation she said: “Constipation can also be caused by
too little activity, drinking too little, not eating fiber.”
– Plenty of water; that’s common sense. No/little water pretty well
guarantees constipation. Ataxians often don’t like to drink water because
getting to the bathroom is a chore and because of any incontinence problems.
Put yourself on a conscious drinking/peeing schedule each day.
– The bowels are stimulated in part by movement (that’s why my daughter’s
service dog poops 10 minutes into every chase-the-ball exercise routine) and
for the chair-confined there is substantially less torso movement. So
exercise (Yes you can). Twice or three times a day (before you get up,
mid-day and in bed at night at least) you (or a caregiver helping) do
stretching exercises (I’ll send you Brianne’s regimen by separate Email).
For constipation I would add back and forth movement in addition to the 30
second holds because the movement will aid the bowels more. Lean forward in
your chair and straighten up a bunch of multiple times. Stand up and sit
down, with help as necessary. Get motivated; think how this might help your
regularity. One parent suggests a regular good massage emphasizing the
– The bowels are also affected and stimulated by some foods and chemicals.
Drinking coffee gives me both water and a caffeine stimulant. Eating cheese
for instance is a definite binder-upper. Lisawhy mentioned several good and
bad foods. Google “constipation food”. Here’s one:
Then there are all the various natural and medical chemicals/treatments you
could do. I’m not up on those but from my FAPG/INTERNAF Email folder on
Constipation (doesn’t everyone have one??) suggests Miralax or Polyethylene
Glycol, colace, Benefiber, ground flax seed, Senna (generic of Senakot
(sp?)), generic Dulcolax (stool softener), Interestingly a couple of
parents said “Fiber (Benefiber and fiber bars) only made things worse.” and
“too much fiber can be a bad thing.”. Another parent said, “It takes some
getting used to taste wise – – – but 2 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in 8 oz of
water will keep you softened and regular. A gallon costs $2 to $3 and will
last you three months!!! It promotes weight loss also. The vinegar kills
and eliminates fat cells from your body.”. In this paragraph please do note
I have just cut/pasted and have no opinion on these “remedies”. With Miralax
at least do consult with your doctor because it pulls water into the bowels
from other parts of the body and my Emails had a couple of cautions about
– Ataxia affects the connection of the brain to muscles around the bowels.
Not much you can do about that.
Let us know how things “go” for you!