Two out of three people with Parkinson's disease suffer from constipation, and the symptom can occur long before the diagnosis is made. Constipation is one of the most common non-motor symptoms of this condition.
Many patients find it embarrassing to talk about their bowel problems, but it is important to seek help in managing constipation. Left untreated, constipation can lead to other problems. You may feel
unwell and nauseous, exacerbating the constipation as you don’t feel like eating or drinking.
Constipation can also cause overactive bladder and urinary incontinence due to mechanical pressure on the bladder. Sometimes constipation makes it difficult to empty your bladder, and when urine
remains in the bladder there is a risk of urinary tract infections.
We spoke to Ethan and Susan about their symptoms and how they manage it - here's an excerpt from our free guides:
"Bladder and Bowel dysfunction when you have Parkinson's Disease"
My arm went numb, my right hand lost dexterity and my shoulder started hurting. When I was out for a run, my shoulder started cramping. That’s when I knew that something was potentially wrong, and I went to see my general practitioner.
I was only in my mid 30’s at the time and I was quite shocked when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I still had a lot of energy and vigor so at that point I kind of had a blind hope that everything would be fine. But of course, things started to go downhill. My speech became weak and my voice started to tremble. I got slowness in movement and fatigue. And I had bowel problems.
Constipation was an issue long before my diagnosis, even if I didn’t realize that there was an underlying cause. Constipation doesn’t just cause upset stomach, the build-up also causes toxicity, and I experienced associated ailments, such as headaches and sickness. I took a lot of fibers and I used tons of laxatives, but it never seemed to work. It was a great relief when I found transanal irrigation, a bowel management regime that actually helped me empty my bowels. I don’t feel bloated and sick anymore and can take part in social events without feeling totally exhausted.
I’m struggling to move and do all the things that people take for granted. I wake up very stiff and slow and need medication to help me get going in the morning.
I go to the gym twice a week and walk the dog to keep my strength up – when I exercise, I feel much better. The symptoms that bother me the most are the continence issues, not least constipation – it makes me feel miserable and very down. It leads to bloating and it’s so uncomfortable. I always wear elasticated dresses or trousers. Sometimes I feel like I’m nine months pregnant… The bowel doesn’t push things down as fast as it should and before I found transanal irrigation I was using laxatives almost every day and spent hours and hours in the bathroom.
Female and male anatomy are different, and the effects of Parkinson's disease may have different effects when it comes to bladder and bowel dysfunction.
The bladder and bowel also interact and effect the functioning of these processes. In these free guides, we look at the symptoms, effects and therapies available to manage this condition.
Bladder and Bowel dysfunction when you have Parkinson's Disease