Living with Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult, given the impact it has on voluntary movement and mental health. In addition, with some people, constipation is a common complication of Parkinson’s Disease and can be frustrating to deal with on a regular basis. The good news, however, is that constipation is easy to resolve with the right treatment. Here, we offer a brief guide to what constipation looks like in Parkinson’s Disease patients, along with some tips on the best Parkinson’s constipation remedy for you.
Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It primarily damages dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Dopamine is a chemical involved in sending messages to the parts of the brain that control coordination and movement. Low dopamine levels, therefore, affect movement. The exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is unknown, although it is often attributed to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Parkinson’s Disease has no cure, although treatments such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy help to slow disease progression and keep symptoms in check.
Constipation in Parkinson’s Disease
A symptom that patients with Parkinson’s Disease frequently have to deal with is constipation. This occurs when bowel movements become less frequent or harder to complete. Constipation, in fact, is one of the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and may occur even before muscle tremors or stiffness show up. Symptoms of constipation include:
- Moving bowels fewer than thrice a week
- Straining when moving bowels
- Experiencing dry, hard stools
- Feeling of incomplete bowel movement
While the occasional bout of constipation can be tolerated, patients with Parkinson’s Disease often experience chronic constipation that adversely affects quality of life.
Causes of constipation in Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease patients often experience improper functioning of the autonomic nervous system due to lowered dopamine levels. The autonomic nervous system regulates muscle activity in systems we do not voluntarily control, such as the circulatory system and the digestive tract. Disruptions to the autonomic nervous system could affect the way food moves through the intestinal tract, and lead to constipation. Several Parkinson’s Disease medicines may also cause a reduction in appetite or slow down bowel movements. In addition, patients who find it hard to chew or swallow may avoid eating fibrous foods that require more chewing, thus increasing the risk of constipation. Other possible culprits include:
- Insufficient water intake
- Excessive intake of dairy
- Not getting enough exercise
- Resisting the urge to move bowels
- A change in routine, such as travel
- Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or colorectal cancer
How to treat constipation in Parkinson’s Disease
Constipation requires prompt treatment, not only to alleviate the discomfort but also to guard against further complications such as bowel incontinence or urinary tract infections. If a Parkinson’s Disease patient is experiencing constipation, they should get medical advice promptly. The doctor will conduct a physical examination and take details of the patient’s medical history, which will help to rule out any other conditions that could be responsible for the constipation.
Parkinson’s constipation treatment typically involves dietary changes and a moderate exercise routine to promote good digestion. Some remedies that can help to avoid or alleviate constipation include:
- Drinking 1.5 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids every day
- Drinking warm liquids first thing in the morning
- Limiting dehydrating beverages like tea, coffee, and alcohol
- Avoiding caffeinated beverages as they increase dehydration
- Eating plenty of fiber from sources like legumes, whole grains, and vegetables
- Eating digestive stimulants like chia seeds, or bran
- Having homemade vegetable soups
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day
- Moving bowels whenever the patient feels the urge
- Taking enough time to move bowels without rushing it
- Exercising regularly
- Using a mild laxative as prescribed
- Getting an enema to alleviate severe constipation, if recommended
- Pressing a warm washcloth against the abdomen or massaging it gently to relax the gut muscles
It is important to add dietary fiber gradually, as too much of it, too soon could lead to abdominal cramps and bloating. Patients should also immediately consult a doctor if:
- There is blood in the stools
- There is pain during bowel movement
- The constipation has lasted more than 3 weeks
- The patient is losing weight without intending to
- Constipation is a new symptom
- What helps constipation from Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease patients can treat constipation by drinking warm liquids in the morning, drinking 2 to 4 extra glasses of water every day, and eating foods like bran cereal or prunes.
- Why do Parkinson’s patients get constipated?
The autonomic nervous system that controls smooth muscle activity may be affected in Parkinson’s patients. When this happens, the intestinal tract fails to function normally, leading to constipation.
- Which drug used to treat Parkinson’s Disease causes constipation?
Several Parkinson’s Disease medications can lead to constipation as a side effect. Anticholinergic medicines, like benztropine mesylate or trihexyphenidyl, and antidepressants like fluoxetine could be responsible.
- Does Parkinson’s cause severe constipation?
Parkinson’s Disease patients often experience constipation as a symptom. However, it is not usually severe and can be managed by drinking enough water and adding fiber to the diet.
- Does Parkinson’s affect bowels?
Patients with Parkinson’s Disease are likely to have bladder and / or bowel trouble than other people their age. Constipation and reduced bowel movement are highly common.
- What is the most effective medication for constipation?
There are several over-the-counter and prescription medicines that patients can consume for constipation. These include fiber supplements like psyllium, osmotics like milk of magnesia, stool softeners like Colace, and stimulants like Correctol.
- How do you stimulate a bowel movement quickly?
Easy ways to induce a bowel movement within a few hours include taking a laxative or stool softener, taking a fiber supplement, eating a portion of a high-fiber meal or snack, drinking a glass of water, or doing some light exercise like jogging.
- How do you permanently cure chronic constipation?
Chronic constipation can be cured permanently in most cases by eating more fiber, drinking more water, and exercising more. The patient can expect to see improvements within a few months.
- What exercises relieve constipation?
Any form of cardio exercise that gets the blood flowing can relieve constipation. Patients can try walking briskly, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming. Yoga poses such as the supine twist or the matsyasana twist also stimulate the digestive tract and aid proper bowel movement.
- What are the signs of a blocked bowel
Patients experiencing severe belly cramps, a gassy feeling without being able to pass gas, a feeling of fullness, and an inability to pass stool should see a doctor immediately to check for a blocked bowel.
- What is the best position to poop when constipated?
Patients who have trouble passing stool on the toilet should sit with their knees higher than their hips, lean forward, place their elbows on their knees, relax, and bulge out their stomach.
- How should you sleep to relieve constipation?
To relieve constipation, patients should sleep on their left side while placing a firm pillow between their knees and hugging another one to support the spine. Stool passes from the small intestine to the large intestine on the right side and then to the lower colon on the left side. Sleeping on the left side, therefore, encourages a bowel movement in the morning.
- Does walking help bowel movement?
Increased exercise such as walking, helps the natural movement of the intestinal tract that pushes stool forward and out. Patients looking for an easy Parkinson’s constipation treatment should consider taking walks of about 10 to 15 minutes.
- How much water do you need to drink to relieve constipation?
Proper hydration is essential to the natural movement of the colon. Patients experiencing constipation should ensure that they drink at least 8 eight-ounce servings of water every day. Sipping on lemon water is also good for digestion and bowel movement, especially first thing in the morning.
- How long is it safe to go without a bowel movement?
Everyone has a different rate at which they move their bowels. While some go once every 2 or 3 days, others may move their bowels a few times a day. In general, however, going 3 days or more without bowel movement causes the stool to harden, making it tougher to pass without discomfort.
- How do you massage your stomach for constipation?
A quick Parkinson’s constipation remedy involves fisting the right hand and pressing it firmly into the abdomen above the hip bone and sliding it in a circular motion. The movement should start by going up to the ribs, across the belly, down to the hipbone, and back again. The motion should be repeated 10 times.
- Does heat help constipation?
Heat in the form of a warm towel or hot-water bottle can relax the muscles in the gut and thus relieve constipation.
In conclusion, we see that, even if constipation is fairly common among Parkinson’s Disease patients, it doesn’t have to be a lifelong concern. Consult your doctor about the best Parkinson’s constipation remedy, make sure you are drinking plenty of water, and easier days are soon to come.