Ever wonder why Parkinson’s patients experience constipation?
This article will delve into the 10 reasons behind constipation in Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain illness that affects millions of people worldwide. The disease is known mainly for its motor symptoms like tremors and slow movements. However, a less discussed but significant issue for Parkinson’s patients is constipation.
Studies show that up to 80% of Parkinson’s patients face constipation at some point during their illness. This high prevalence highlights the importance of addressing this issue.
So here are the 10 reasons why do people develop constipation in Parkinson’s disease.
1. Parkinson’s disease itself
Parkinson’s disease can directly affect the nerves and muscles involved in the digestive process. This can lead to slower movement of stool through the intestines. Such reduced motility can contribute to constipation.
2. Medication side effects
Many individuals with Parkinson’s disease are prescribed medications to manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, some of these medications can contribute to constipation. Specifically, the drugs that are commonly used to address motor symptoms can cause a slowdown in bowel movements. This double-edged sword of managing Parkinson’s symptoms while potentially causing constipation highlights the importance of medication management and communication with healthcare providers.
3. Dietary factors
Diet plays a significant role in constipation for both Parkinson’s patients and the general population. Many individuals with Parkinson’s may experience changes in appetite or difficulty swallowing due to the disease. This can lead to dietary choices that lack fiber, an essential component for regular bowel movements. Ensuring a well-balanced diet with adequate fiber intake is crucial for managing constipation in Parkinson’s disease.
Related article: Diet for Parkinson’s Patients – What to Eat and When?
4. Insufficient water intake
Drinking insufficient water can cause the stools dry and hard. This can make them difficult to pass. Parkinson’s patients often have difficulty in swallowing. This problem may unintentionally reduce their fluid intake. Drinking plenty of water is essential for maintaining the moisture content of stool and promoting smoother bowel movements.
5. Excessive consumption of dairy products
Some individuals with Parkinson’s disease may develop sensitivity to dairy products, which is why they experience digestive discomfort and constipation when consuming excessive dairy products. Lactose intolerance is more prevalent in older patients. This problem can exacerbate the constipation issue in Parkinson’s disease.
6. Dehydration and medication timing
Dehydration can make constipation worse. Parkinson’s patients often deal with swallowing difficulties, making it challenging to consume enough fluids. Additionally, the timing of medication doses can coincide with mealtime. This might discourage patients from drinking fluids before or after taking their medications. Adequate hydration is vital to maintaining healthy digestion.
7. Daily consumption of red meat
Red meat is lower in fiber, which is crucial for adding bulk to stool and facilitating its movement through the digestive tract. A diet rich in red meat can result in sluggish bowel movements and make a patient prone to developing constipation.
8. Role of the autonomic nervous system
One of the key factors contributing to constipation in Parkinson’s is the involvement of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS plays an important role in controlling various bodily functions. One such function is the digestion. In Parkinson’s disease, the ANS becomes dysregulated, which can affect the digestive system’s normal functioning. This dysregulation can lead to slower transit times in the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, it makes stool difficult to pass through and results in constipation.
9. Reduced physical activity
In Parkinson’s, motor symptoms like muscle stiffness and slowed movement frequently lead to reduced physical activity. This sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate constipation, as regular exercise is essential for promoting healthy bowel movements. Engaging in physical activity can help stimulate the digestive system and provide some relief from constipation.
10. Psychological factors
Living with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s can bring about stress and anxiety. These two factors can indirectly affect gastrointestinal health. Both can slow down the digestive process and contribute to constipation. Strategies to manage stress, such as relaxation techniques and therapy, can be beneficial for mental and physical well-being.
In conclusion, while constipation may not be as widely discussed as other symptoms of Parkinson's disease, its impact on patients' daily lives should not be underestimated. By understanding the reasons behind its development and implementing strategies for prevention and management, we can help individuals with Parkinson's disease lead more comfortable and fulfilling lives.
Related article: 6 Ways to Deal with Constipation in Parkinson’s Disease
Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your healthcare provider.