Parkinson’s and Bladder Problems
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder. There is no known cure for it at present and it is not yet understood why people get this condition. Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of nerve cells, which contain a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that allows us to perform coordinated movement. Levels of dopamine will gradually decrease over time, which causes a worsening of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is a complex condition that has many symptoms, which vary from person to person. The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Rigidity (stiff and inflexible muscles)
- Slowness of movement
Other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s include:
- Bladder and bowel disorders
- Difficulty with eating and swallowing
- Blurred or double vision
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty with speech and communication
Why might a person with Parkinson’s become incontinent?
Bladder and bowel disorders are more common in people of the same age with Parkinson’s than those without. Not everyone with Parkinson’s will develop incontinence issues though. Incontinence in those with Parkinson’s is mainly caused by a disruption in the messages from the brain to the bladder or bowel. Common incontinence issues include:
There are still ways of managing incontinence caused by Parkinson’s by using conservative methods, which can be easily incorporated into a routine during the day.
Parkinson’s and Incontinence Treatments
There are some preventative measures that can put in place to help avoid or improve incontinence symptoms. It is a good idea to establish the below methods into a daily routine to train the bladder and bowel into a regular pattern.
Diet and Lifestyle
In order to keep the bladder and bowel healthy it is important that a healthy, balanced diet is consumed with plenty of fibre and enough fluid (ideally water and around 6-8 glasses a day) in order to regulate the bowel and keep stools at the right consistency. It is best to limit or avoid caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol as these can irritate the bladder.
Creating a routine can help to avoid accidents. It can help to go to the toilet after every meal and eat and drink at regular times. Limit drinks two hours before bedtime to avoid accidents overnight, it is important to make sure that enough fluid has been consumed during the day though.
Clothing that can be easily removed, elasticated waists without zips and buttons can help those who struggle with their dexterity or have slowness of movement are useful for those who have urge incontinence.
It may be helpful to look at what adaptations can be done in the home to help those with mobility or balance issues. Hand rails, toilet frames, adjusting the height on the toilet seat and footstools are easy to add into the home and can help.
There are many products available that can help the person to feel more comfortable and will protect clothing and furniture.
- Incontinence pads and pants – these are available in a variety of sizes and absorbencies and can help to draw fluid away from the skin
- Male continence sheath – these can be worn over the penis and attached to a leg bag. These are particularly useful at night
- Bed pads and mattress protectors – these can help to keep the bed clean and dry. There are also covers and pads available for chairs
Visit the Bladder & Bowel Home Delivery Service for more information and to order these products. Our caring, specially trained advisors can help you decide which option is most suitable for you.
If urinary incontinence is quite severe than long term catheterisation may be a better way to manage your bladder, and an indwelling catheter is one option. This involves inserting a fine tube through the urethra up into the bladder. This can be attached to either a valve or a drainage bag. The catheter will need to be replaced every few weeks. For more information on Indwelling catheters click here.
To relieve short term constipation quickly, there are some over-the-counter laxatives that can be purchased. These can be used in order to avoid impaction of the bowel and any overflow incontinence as a result. There are a variety of laxatives available that act in different ways. Bulking laxatives such as Fybogel, which work in the same way as increasing fibre in their diet; osmotic laxatives, which work by softening the stool making it easier to pass, and stimulant laxatives such as senna, which encourages peristalsis and stimulates the gut to pass the stool. Make sure that you speak to your local pharmacist or GP about which type of laxative is best to use.
This is an alternative form of long term catheterisation and involves a small surgical procedure to place a tube directly into your bladder through your abdomen. Again you can attach the tube to a valve or a drainage bag. For more information of Suprapubic Catheters click here.
Further information and downloads can be found in the help and information section. Living with a bladder or bowel condition or caring for someone with a bladder and bowel condition can affect you emotionally and socially; sometimes it can help to speak to others who understand your situation. The Bladder & Bowel Community Forum is available 24 hours today and will allow you to connect with those who share your condition. Start your own topic today or just follow one that interests you.