Andrew Forsyth 1

Andrew Forsyth – Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist

For today’s blog, I wanted to talk about the non-motor symptom constipation, which is a common symptom in Parkinson’s and generally an under recognised feature of the condition. Constipation can sometimes be the first symptom of Parkinson’s and often occurs before the motor symptoms start to exhibit. Complications of constipation in Parkinson’s disease is the most common reason for acute hospital admission. Most of these admissions can be prevented with applying techniques and strategies into daily living that can prevent constipation.

Constipation is a condition in which you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, or hardy, dry and small bowel movements that are painful or difficult to pass. Constipation can reduce the absorption of Parkinson’s medication and therefore symptoms of Parkinson’s would not be as well controlled. Complications of on-going constipation can lead to abdominal cramp, nausea, faecal impaction and an urgency and frequency to pass urine. Continuous straining can also cause haemorrhoids.

I want to discuss ways and strategies that you can improve your bowel regularity and prevent episodes of constipation.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids. It’s recommended to drink 8 cups or glasses on a daily basis, this equates to approximately 2 litres per day.
  2. Increase intake of fibre. fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholemeal food
  3. Linn seeds, flax seeds, prune juice and liquorish contain a high level of fibre. You make want to think about incorporating these into your diet.
  4. Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise has been proven to improve bowel regularity and motion
  5. Stress is a factor that can cause constipation. If you experience a high level of stress then it’s important to do activities that help reduce anxiety and unwanted stress. Relaxation therapies and mindfulness have proven to reduce stress.
  6. If these above techniques are not effective then it would be recommended to start a laxative that can be prescribed and advised by your general practitioner. There is no shame in taking laxatives, especially if it will improve bowel regularity and prevent any further complications

If you have any issues with constipation then I would recommend that you make an appointment with your general practitioner.