Parkinson’s Disease and Incontinence: Why It Happens and How to Cope

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Wed Apr 20 2022.

Black senior woman smiling, Parkinson's disease, incontinence

Constipation is a common side effect of Parkinson's disease, but about 30-40% of patients also experience urinary difficulties, according to the Parkinson's Foundation. A sudden or immediate urge to urinate is more than annoying. Without diagnosis and treatment, accidents may prevent you from running errands, visiting friends, or doing other activities you enjoy.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce accidents, strengthen your pelvic floor, and improve your quality of life. In this article, we highlight symptoms to watch out for, discuss healthy lifestyle changes that you can make, and feature some of our best-selling products.

Why do some people with parkinson's disease experience urinary incontinence?

Parkinson's is best known for its effects on balance and movement, but it impacts the autonomic nervous system as well. The autonomic nervous system controls specific bodily functions, like heart rate, blood pressure, libido, and urine production.

Over time, changes to the autonomic nervous system affect your bladder's ability to store and release urine. That means you might have trouble making it to the bathroom on time or need to urinate more frequently.

What types of incontinence affect people with Parkinson's?

There are several types of incontinence that affect people with Parkinson's, including:

Urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is characterized by a sudden or intense urge to urinate. This type of incontinence is especially common in people with Parkinson's because the disease affects the way that nerves communicate with the brain. As a result, your bladder tells your brain it's full, even if it's not.

Nocturia. Nocturia is a sudden or intense urge to urinate that occurs during sleep. It causes you to wake up and may even prevent you from falling back to sleep. Without treatment, the condition can increase the risk of insomnia, loss of balance, and falls.

Bowel incontinence. As Parkinson's disease worsens, it affects the way that food moves through the gut. These changes often trigger symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, and constipation. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle changes can make a significant difference. It's important you eat a nutritious diet, drink plenty of fluids, and take your medication as prescribed.

What can someone with incontinence do to prevent accidents?

If you or a loved one experiences incontinence due to Parkinson's disease, there are several things you can do to prevent accidents, including:

  • Keeping a bladder diary (Track when you go to the bathroom, how often, and if any triggers, like certain foods or caffeine, make your symptoms worse)

  • Doing Kegels or another type of exercise to strengthen your pelvic floor

  • Avoiding certain medications (Stimulant drugs, diuretics, and antihistamines can increase the frequency of urination)

  • Scheduling trips to the bathroom

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Eating a balanced diet that supports your urinary system and bowel health

  • Visiting your doctor for routine checkups

It's also a good idea to plan your outings. For example, if you're leaving home for an hour or two, plan ahead so you know where the restrooms are in the event of an emergency.

What products can help manage incontinence caused by Parkinson's disease?

Here at Carewell, we carry a variety of products designed to prevent leakage and keep your skin clean and dry. Below, we've listed some of our top sellers:

1) Tranquility Premium Overnight Disposable Absorbent Underwear - Click here to buy

These disposable pull-ons are our best-selling overnight underwear. They're made in the United States and feature odor control technology that neutralizes the ammonia in urine, keeping your skin healthy and irritant-free. Perfect for urine or fecal voids, Tranquility pull-ups come in a range of sizes, from small to extra large.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Unisex

  • Provide heavy absorbency

  • Tear-away sides for easy removal

  • Latex-free and hypoallergenic, perfect for those with sensitive skin

2) Prevail Pull-Up Daily Underwear - Click here to buy

These pull-ups from Prevail are designed to look and feel like regular underwear. They feature extra absorbent technology that turns liquid into gel, ensuring your skin stays dry. There's even a back indicator to save you time during changes.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • SkinSmart fabric that contains Aloe, vitamin E, and chamomile

  • Elastic gathers to prevent leaks

  • 100% breathable

  • Made with gentle elastics that compliment your body for a comfortable and discreet fit

3) Attends Premier Pull-Up Underwear, Overnight - Click here to buy

If your symptoms are worse at night, these pull-ups from Attends may help you sleep more soundly. Thanks to a dry-lock containment core with absorbent polymers, it's possible to stay dry and protected through the night. The pull-ups range in size from medium to extra large.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Made of premium materials that look and feel like regular underwear

  • Eight-hour odor guard that provides lasting protection

  • A high-rise, full fit that wraps comfortably around the waist and buttocks

  • ConfidenceCuff elastics that prevent leaks

4) Cardinal Wings Quilted Premium Underpad - Click here to buy

If you're concerned about having accidents during the day, make sure to add these underpads from Cardinal Wings to your at-home incontinence care kit. Underpads, or Chux, are disposable pieces of fabric that protect chairs, beds, and other types of furniture. They're comfortable, breathable, and contain odor guards to keep your home smelling fresh.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Protect furniture from voids, wound drainage, and liquid meals

  • Safe for use with low air loss beds

  • Contains a polymer core that traps liquid and locks it in

  • Capable of holding up to 300 pounds

We hope you've found this article helpful. If you have questions about any of the products we've listed above, get in touch with our friendly Care Specialists. Send an email to support@carewell.com or call (855) 855-1666 during normal business hours.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.