Many people associate a Parkinson’s diagnosis with symptoms that change movement, motor skills, or the body. Common symptoms of the diagnosis range from body tremors, to impaired posture and slow movement, but there are many other non-motor symptoms that can affect an individual with Parkinson’s. Non-motor symptoms are symptoms that affect other systems in our body, including the automatic nervous system. This part of the body and brain controls automatic bodily functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, sexual function, and urinary function. These symptoms are often coined as ‘invisible’ because they aren’t noticeable to people looking in from the outside. Although urinary issues can be tied to a Parkinson’s diagnosis, it usually isn’t a problem until later stages of the disease start developing. In this blog, we’ll look at how the body functions, specifically the urinary system, what urinary issues can be developed after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and the ways that one can treat these issues.
The primary function of one’s bladder is to a) store urine and b) empty urine, but people diagnosed with Parkinson’s in later stages of this degenerative disease can have issues with both. Studies suggest that approximately 30-40% of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s struggle with urinary difficulties, whether that be holding or releasing urine, but only 15% deal with troublesome urinary incontinence. The most common urinary symptoms seen in a person with a Parkinson’s diagnosis is the need to urinate frequently, as well as trouble delaying urine once the need is recognized. The focus on incontinence isn’t as prominent because the issue doesn’t revolve around leaking urine, but actually around the body’s system and the alerts that get sent to the brain, which points to an overactive bladder as opposed to incontinence. It’s common for people with Parkinson’s to feel the need to urinate when they don’t have to, which can cause constant trips to the bathroom during day and night time.
Overall, urinary symptoms observed in people with Parkinson’s mostly revolve around frequency and urgency, which can cause a lot of stress on an individual, especially if their motor symptoms are compromised. Getting up and going to the bathroom can be a lot harder for people with Parkinson’s making these symptoms not only hard to manage, but also exasperating the mobility issue seen with the diagnosis. The other problem commonly relating to Parkinson’s and urinary issues is that people with the diagnosis are prone to developing UTIs. People diagnosed with the disease tend to have issues fully emptying their bladder because they can’t control the muscles that release urine, or the alerts telling them they need to empty their bladder aren’t firing correctly. This in turn causes UTIs and other infections because of a lack of functionality between these systems. Some individuals with Parkinson’s, especially as they get further along in the diagnosis, opt for an external catheter so they can fully empty their bladder without worrying about the functions of their muscles, which prevents issues such as UTIs.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to go about treating urinary issues seen in a Parkinson’s diagnosis, meaning that the individual does not have to suffer long-term with these symptoms. The first step to getting help is to talk to your doctor to rule out any other bladder issues, or medical issues that could be causing the urinary symptoms. Once its confirmed that the issues are stemming from the Parkinson’s diagnosis, there are different medications one can take to help counteract the urgency, frequency, and the alerts from the nervous system that fuel the problem. Your doctor may suggest you try an external catheter so you can eliminate the need for constant trips to the bathroom, while also making sure your bladder is fully emptied avoiding developing UTIs and other infections. Doctors may also refer patients to a urologist depending on the severity of the problem so you can talk to a specialist about your symptoms.
At the end of the day there are many different routes one can take to treat urinary issues developed from a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and there is hope for people experiencing this issue. At ActivKare, we offer a number of home care products and external catheters so you can live your life without worrying about urinary issues on top of other Parkinson’s symptoms experienced. Visit our website to browse our range of reusable and insurable medical products so you can take back control and learn to manage your symptoms. www.activkare.com