How to manage bladder and bowel problems in Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s can cause bladder and bowel problems. Small changes you can make that will make those issues easier to manage. We find out more.

Constipation

  • Try drinking a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon or dash of lemon juice every morning on an empty stomach. It can help you move your bowels regularly.
  • Being physically active will stimulate your bowels. This can help
    prevent constipation.
  • ‘Squatting’ on the toilet may help because it changes your posture. This means you can pass bowel movements more easily than sitting in the ‘normal’ way. Placing your feet on any type of step that raises your knees will also help.
  • Make sure your diet contains lots of fruit and vegetables. Choose breakfast cereals containing wheat, wheat bran or oats, such as Weetabix or porridge. Don’t forget to drink lots of fluids across the day.

Incontinence

  • Caffeine can make incontinence worse. Try switching to tea or coffee that don’t contain caffeine. Or try to replace fizzy drinks (like cola), with other soft drinks, or squash.
  • It’s important not to cut down too much on the amount of fluid you drink as this may leave you dehydrated. But you may find it helpful to drink less later in the evening. This may help you getting up to use the toilet lots during the night. 
  • There are lots of hand-held urinals available for men and women. These may be useful if you need to use the loo urgently, but can’t get out of a bed or a chair in a hurry. If you have a tremor, you may find it’s slightly difficult to use these, so it’s worth trying different types.The Shewee is a funnel that allows women to urinate into a bottle while standing or sitting, so you can ‘go’ anywhere. The Shewee is available on NHS prescription – just ask your GP or nurse about it.
  • Did you know that alcohol is a diuretic? This means you may need to go to the toilet more often. Cutting down may help if you have problems with incontinence.
  • Stress incontinence means you leak urine if you’re under physical stress or when you cough, laugh or exercise. It’s most often caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. Exercising these muscles can help to strengthen them. These exercises can be tricky, but a physiotherapist, nurse or GP will be able to explain how to do them properly.

Getting help

It’s important not to struggle alone with bladder and bowel problems.

A lot of people find it embarrassing to talk about these subjects, but don’t let this stop you from getting help if you need it.

Your GP will usually be your first port of call. You may find it useful to keep a short diary of your bladder and bowel habits before your GP appointment. This may help you explain the problems you’re having.

Your GP can offer treatments, or they may refer you to a specialist, like a urologist. Urologists  specialise in the urinary system.

A continence adviser can also help. They are specialist nurses who assess and manage incontinence. They can visit you at home or see you in a clinic.

Our thanks to Parkinson’s UK for permission to use the following source(s) in compiling this information:

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