An Honest Discussion About My Sister’s Bladder Issues
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.
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.