An Honest Discussion About My Sister’s Bladder Issues

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by Jo Gambosi |

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My sister, Bev, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2017 and is currently at stage 3 of the disease. Her present symptoms include gait and balance problems, short-term memory issues, chronic fatigue, and occasional difficulty swallowing.

Additionally, because of both her age and PD, Bev experiences bladder problems and has been taking fesoterodine fumarate to manage them. Urinary symptoms such as urgency, frequency, excessive urination at night, pain or discomfort while urinating, and incontinence certainly can affect a person’s quality of life.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, up to 40% of people with PD experience bladder problems. Ongoing bladder issues can also lead to frequent urinary tract infections if not managed properly.

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In a 2019 article for the University of Michigan’s health blog, author Jane Racey Gleeson noted that “For PD patients, bladder issues are often due to fluctuations in dopamine levels affecting the bladder muscles and nerves, which are critical to how it functions. PD is also thought to impact the nerve pathway between the bladder and the area of the brain that controls bladder function.”

My sister says that her bladder medication helps with her urgency issues most of the time, but not always. She wears incontinence pads, especially at nighttime.

“All of this is so embarrassing,” Bev said. “I never thought this would be such a problem for me.”

In addition to medication, other treatments for bladder control include deep brain stimulation and kegel exercises, which help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that surround the bladder. Implants and percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation are also options.

Managing bladder problems can pose additional challenges for people with PD. Complicating the urgency issue are Bev’s mobility problems. She can’t always move quickly enough to get to the bathroom in time. I know that this is very frustrating for her.

Bladder issues may also cause people to fear going out in public, and there is a definite stigma associated with loss of bladder control. “I’m always afraid that I might not be able to get to the bathroom in time and have an accident,” Bev said. Although she does socialize, I know there are times when Bev hesitates or declines invitations due to this fear of embarrassment.

Although this was a sensitive topic to write about, both Bev and I wanted others who may be experiencing the same issues to know they’re not alone.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Richard Odessey avatar

Richard Odessey

Thanks for bringing up the bladder issue. My symptoms include, urinary urgency, incontinence, and post urinary drip. i wear a pad ("Depend")made from some extremely adsorbent material which is like a bathing suit which I wear instead of an under-garment. It actually works quite well for no #1 and even for #2. It doesn't relieve the annoyance of having to go frequently (3-5x/night). I also still have accidents, but I find that if i carry a small face to wipe of any wetness that escapes the garment (around seams & on the outside), I can dry it up and get along until i have time to change.
I haven't had time to try any medications like fesoterodine fumarate. I am exploring with my urologist non-invasive surgical treatments like green light therapy, steam therapy, etc. Of course this won't help your sister but it might be a solution for other men.
PS i find that sitting for an extended period of time (5-10 Min or more) invariably stimulates the urination reflex. Can anyone explain this?

Steve Backer avatar

Steve Backer

Thank you for sharing all this. I have to deal with all the exact same bladder issues. So, spot in, your sharing this did indeed help me to feel not so alone on this issue. I mean, who share about bladder issues, constipation etc. Better be us PWP's cause no one else will

Mike Hargrove avatar

Mike Hargrove

Thanks for sharing your input on this issue... I, myself had lower back surgery in June and the removal of my left temporal lobe of the brain in September both in 95. I noticed a bit of a problem with my bladder since then.. Here within the last few years I was diagnosed with Parkinson's and or some form of Alzheimer... Either way Dr's have told me I've gone beyond the stage of Dementia. It was shortly after those surgeries of 95 I had to start wearing some kind of protection. About 20 years ago I couldn't deal with the pads anymore and had to just go to wearing a diaper.. Depends was the way for me for so many years that is until they went in and had to start changing up of all their products and well now the brief is hard to find. Underwear of theirs or any others just dont work for me.. I got out and found that Tranquility ATN work quite well along with NorthShore Mega Max...
Hope this insight is of some help to you..

JeriAltstadter avatar


I had a UTI ( urinary tract infection) a few months ago. I am now on my way to give a specimen as the symptoms have returned. I would think that this would be a reasonable way to approach this problem.


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