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Parkinson’s lesser-known symptoms get spotlight

Healthcare workers attuned to the hidden bladder and bowel symptoms of Parkinson’s are better able to help mitigate their added burden, and peak bodies are working to raise awareness.

Ahead of World Parkinson’s Day, on April 11, the Continence Foundation of Australia is shining a light on the disease's often unseen and distressing symptoms.

Nearly 70,000 people in Australia are living with Parkinson’s, according to a 2014 report from Deloitte Access Economics. This is an increase of 27 percent in nine years.

Parkinson’s Victoria clinical nurse consultant Victor McConvey said continence management is one of the most confronting and difficult problems for people living with Parkinson’s.

He said reduced peripheral dopamine production in the gut causes it to slow down, and added that constipation, which is further exacerbated by the person’s reduced mobility, is the most common difficulty experienced in Parkinson’s.

McConvey said: “Problems with constipation are a frequent subject for calls to the Parkinson’s Information Line, and the second-most common reason someone with Parkinson’s will present to a hospital emergency department.”

With good management, these difficulties can be overcome and the impact of the symptoms can be effectively reduced, he said.

The Continence Foundation of Australia and Parkinson’s Australia produced an online video about the management of bladder and bowel difficulties for people with Parkinson’s. View it below.

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