Parkinson’s disease is a condition that progressively damages the brain over a number of years. One of the most recognised symptoms is a tremor -involuntarily shaking usually in the hands. The condition develops when nerve cells are lost in a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. This can trigger a reduction in the chemical in the brain that helps regulate movement in the body – dopamine. But symptoms are not always related to movement.
People with the condition are also likely to have problems with their bowels than people of a similar age without the condition, according to Parkinson’s UK.
Constipation, diarrhoea and a weak sphincter are all conditions which have been linked to Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s patients can get diarrhoea for the same reasons as people who don’t have the condition – for example food poisoning.But those with the condition may find it difficult to get to the toilet in time.
The Parkinson’s charity says: “You may also find hard to squeeze the sphincter muscles in your bottom. This can cause leakage before you can reach the toilet.”
This is where stools are hard and difficult to pass or when bowel movements become less frequent.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms: There are three signs to watch out for when you go to the toilet (Image: GETTY)
It explains: “Constipation can be a common bowel problem for people with Parkinson’s. This can be because Parkinson’s symptoms, such as slowness of movement and rigid muscles, affect the muscles in the bowel wall. This can make it harder to push stools out of the body.
“If you find it difficult to move around or exercise much, this can also mean your bowel isn’t stimulated to work properly.
“You may find it difficult to chew and swallow food. This means it’s harder to have a diet with plenty of fibre, which helps to keep stools soft and easy to pass.
“If you don’t drink enough fluid, this can cause stools to be harder and more difficult to pass. This can get worse during hot weather.
“Medication can make constipation worse. It may be your Parkinson’s drugs or other types of medication, such as antidepressants.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms: Diarrhoea can be one of the signs (Image: GETTY)
Parkinson’s disease symptoms: Constipation can be another indicator (Image: GETTY)
“It may become difficult to contract your abdominal muscles and the anal sphincter may not relax at the right time to allow you to pass the stool easily. Sometimes, the sphincter may tighten when it should relax, which can make emptying the bowels difficult.”
Childbirth is a common cause of a weak sphincter, but having one can cause difficulties in holding on to stools if you feel a need to empty your bowels.
It says: “If you can’t get to a toilet quickly, this can result in incontinence.”
Another symptoms of Parkinson’s disease not related to movement or the bowels is excessive sweating.