Parkinson's is a progressive and fluctuating neurological condition that affects movements such as walking, writing, and swallowing.
Parkinson's occurs when there are cells lost from the part of the brain that controls movement. These lost cells are the cells that produce dopamine, a chemical messenger that allows us to perform co-ordinated movements by transmitting messages between nerve cells and muscles. If approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing nerve cells have been lost, the symptoms of Parkinson's appear. It is not known what causes the depletion of dopamine-producing cells. Research into the cause is currently focused on genetic and environmental factors and how they interact to cause the condition.
There are three main symptoms of Parkinson's disease:
Tremor - shaking normally begins in one hand or arm and is more likely to occur when the affected part of the body is at rest. Tremor will usually lessen when the affected part is being used, and may become noticeable to others when a person affected by Parkinson's is anxious or excited.
Muscular rigidity or stiffness - People may notice that they begin to experience problems with everyday mobility such as getting out of bed or fastening a button. For some people, their posture and facial expressions may be affected by stiffness.
Slowness of movement - people with Parkinson's may find that initiating movements becomes increasingly difficult or that it takes them longer to perform movements.
There are other symptoms that you may experience with Parkinson's such as tiredness, pain and depression.
Not everyone with Parkinson's experiences the same combination of symptoms- they vary from person to person.
There are two main problems that can occur with the bladder in Parkinson's, these are urge incontinence (overactive bladder) and nocturia/nocturnal enuresis (needing to empty your bladder at night/ bed wetting).
It is important to note that not everyone with Parkinson's will have these problems, but they are difficulties that people with the condition are more likely to have. Parkinson's may affect other functions such as mobility, so that coping with the bladder becomes more difficult.
Urge incontinence - this occurs when messages from the brain telling the bladder to wait are not getting through properly. You may experience feelings of urgency. In some cases you may be unable to find a toilet in time and may have an accident.
Nocturia/Nocturnal Enuresis - If you have an overactive bladder you may also feel the need to urinate more often than before. This may wake you up or your bladder may empty while you are asleep.
If you are experiencing problems on a regular basis or for a prolonged period of time there is plenty of professional help available. Ideally you should speak to a healthcare professional who understands the nature of Parkinson's.
Parkinson's nurses are experienced registered general nurses who have completed a special course in Parkinson's. They can help you manage your symptoms effectively. To find out if there is a Parkinson's nurse in your area contact your GP or specialist. You can also contact the Parkinson's UK helpline on 0808 800 0303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively you should discuss any problems with your Parkinson's specialist. They can refer you on to other health and social care professionals such as an occupational therapist, who can advise on equipment to help with everyday activities such as going to the toilet.
Parkinson's UK produces a booklet called Looking after your bladder and bowels when you have Parkinson's. You can view this booklet, as well as information on all aspects of living with the condition, on the website at www.parkinsons.org.uk/publications. You can also order the booklet from their distributor on 01473 212 115.
Further help with bladder problems
If you are concerned about your problem and it is starting to affect your day to day life make an appointment to see your doctor, continence nurse or specialist physiotherapist. A continence nurse and specialist physiotherapist are healthcare professionals who specialise in bladder and bowel problems.
You can also call our specialist helpline on 0845 345 0165 (24 hour answerphone) for medical advice, or call our office on 01536 533255 to find out where your nearest NHS continence service is.
For more information on specific continence problems, including treatment and product options to help manage your symptoms, please use the drop down menu below.
Bladder Conditions and Symptoms affecting both women and men