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Parkinson's disease and the bladder

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. In people with Parkinson’s, some of the brain cells that create the chemical dopamine have died. These cells are needed to control physical motion and mood. The disease gets worse over time, but its progression affects people differently – as does its symptoms.
Parkinson’s is often diagnosed in a person’s 40’s or 50’s, but it can also be diagnosed much earlier. The disease is thought to be brought on by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, and is most often managed with medication.
Because Parkinson’s is a nervous system disease, some – though not all – people with Parkinson’s can experience bladder function problems at some stage of their disease.
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How Parkinson's disease affects the bladder

People with Parkinson’s may encounter the same bladder problem anyone else might. However, two conditions are commonly reported: urge incontinence and nocturia. These conditions (or any other bladder problem that a person with Parkinson’s might experience) may be a result of signal problems between the brain and bladder. Not everyone with Parkinson’s experiences bladder problems. But for those that do, the symptoms can get worse as the disease progresses.

Urge incontinence is also known as an overactive bladder (OAB). Someone with an overactive bladder experiences unwanted contractions that are difficult to control. They may feel the need to urinate immediately, without warning, even if the bladder is not full. OAB can be very disturbing, and some people may also experience leakage.

Nocturia is the need to urinate several times during the night because of OAB. This wakes people up, or results in bed wetting. Interrupted sleep due to nocturia is one of the most common non-motor symptoms in people with Parkinson’s.

Read more about how Parkinson's Disease affects the bladder in our enCATHopedia leaflet

Bladder and Bowel dysfunctions often come together

It's only recently that health care providers have begun to notice the connection between bladder and bowel dysfunction. The impact is huge for people with neurogenic diseases. In a lot of cases, bladder and bowel symptoms coexist, side by side and interact. So it's time for a more holistic approach for the benefit of patients.

Are you asking the right questions?

But there are challenges to overcome - for both the patient and the healthcare provider. Better care and a better quality of life are possible when bladder and bowel are treated together.

We've collected testimonies from those with bladder and bowel dysfunction related to their neurogenic diagnosis, who's lives have been improved and we explore the therapies that help to improve quality of life so that both patient and professional can reach for a better quality of life.