Coping with Urinary Problems in Parkinson's Disease

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If you have Parkinson's disease, you may eventually have to deal with urinary problems — studies show that up to around 39% of Parkinson's patients have issues with their urinary function.

As your Parkinson's gets worse, your risk of having urinary problems will increase. Fortunately, your risk of outright urinary incontinence is small — only about 15% — but other issues are more common.

Urge Incontinence in Parkinson's Disease

The most common urinary problem is the urge to go frequently ...

in some cases, extremely frequently. This urge happens because the nerve signals between your bladder and your brain aren't getting through properly.

This need to urinate frequently can cause all kinds of inconveniences. One of the most troublesome is incontinence, which can occur when you feel like you just can't wait to get to the bathroom. Obviously, this can be embarrassing.

There's a variety of different medications that may help to address this problem of needing to go too frequently. If you're having this problem, talk to your doctor about it so that he can help you address it.

Sleep Problems Stemming from Urinary Issues

Another problem with frequent urination in Parkinson's disease is that it disrupts your sleep. Needless to say, people with Parkinson's have enough problems with sleep without having to wake up and go to the bathroom every couple of hours!

So what can you do about this urge to go frequently at night?

Most doctors recommend reducing your evening fluid intake and emptying your bladder immediately before going to bed. Setting up a bedside commode so that when you need to go in the night all you have to do is sit or stand next to the bed may also help. Finally, you can consider using disposable undergarments at night to avoid multiple trips to the bathroom.

Incomplete Bladder Emptying

Parkinson's disease also may make it more difficult for you to empty your bladder completely. This occurs less frequently than the need to urinate frequently, but it still affects plenty of people with Parkinson's.

Your muscles are to blame for this problem. When you urinate, you relax certain muscles, and Parkinson's can make it difficult for you to relax these muscles. Sometimes, it takes a long time to relax enough to go.

Unfortunately, medications aren't always as helpful with incomplete bladder emptying in Parkinson's disease, although the medication Urecholine (generic name: bethanechol) or other drugs aimed at treating urinary retention may make a difference.

Some people with urinary retention have to use catheters to empty their bladders. If this is the case for you, your doctor can instruct you on how to use a catheter.


Bladder and Bowel Foundation. Parkinson's fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 26, 2016.

Magerkurth C, Schnitzer R, Braune S. (2005). Symptoms of autonomic failure in Parkinson's disease: prevalence and impact on daily life. Clin Auton Res. Apr;15(2):76-82.

Parkinson's Disease Foundation. Gastrointestinal and Urinary Dysfunction in PD fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 26, 2016.

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