Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects everyone with the condition differently, causing a variety of symptoms that can sometimes seem unusual or surprising. Several members of MyMSTeam describe experiencing a warm, reddened face, which is often related to toilet use.
“Does anyone else have facial flushing when using the bathroom?” one member asked. “I get this flushing, sometimes only on one side of my face and one ear and sometimes on both sides of my face and both ears, whenever I use the bathroom.”
“I have these exact same symptoms,” another member replied. “Anyone ever find out why these symptoms happen?”
Read on for more information about facial flushing during bowel movements in people with MS, including what might cause this symptom, how to manage it, and when to see a health care provider.
When you have MS, your immune system (the body’s defense system) mistakenly attacks the myelin (protective covering) of nerves in your central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.
The resulting nerve damage can lead to a range of symptoms and affect any body area, including your digestive system. This means that MS may cause bowel problems such as constipation. Although bowel control issues in MS might be neurological (related to the nervous system), it’s possible that the issue is just from constipation itself.
Either way, people who have chronic (long-term) constipation may strain to have a bowel movement. That effort can also lead to strained breathing and a flushed face.
Bowel function problems such as constipation are common in people with MS and a potential cause of a flushed face. Other factors could also lead to flushing, including:
Facial flushing has several possible triggers, such as consuming alcohol or certain foods. It’s also a possible symptom of different medical conditions. Strategies to manage flushing include keeping a symptom diary to help you identify what makes your skin turn red and warm. With this knowledge, you can avoid triggers that cause or worsen symptoms.
If you notice that your face reddens while you’re using the toilet, you can make certain lifestyle changes to manage bowel problems such as constipation. General suggestions include:
Before making any changes, reach out to your health care provider — especially if facial flushing is a new symptom or is getting worse. Once your health care provider determines the underlying cause, they can provide you with medical advice and discuss next steps.
Living with certain symptoms of MS can be challenging and affect your quality of life, but you don’t have to face them on your own. On MyMSTeam, the social network and online support group for people with MS and their loved ones, more than 193,000 members come together to ask questions, offer advice and support, and share stories with others who understand life with MS.
Do you experience facial flushing? Does it happen during bowel movements, or does something else trigger this symptom? How are you managing your facial flushing and constipation? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyMSTeam.