It is extremely common for PWPs to have problems with constipation. For me personally, I would rank this one right up there with getting a good nights sleep in terms of it's potential to impact the way I feel on a daily basis. I was diagnosed early in 2008 and mild constipation became noticeable within the first year or so. I managed it well enough with prunes, a laxative called Prunelax, adding fiber to my diet, and doing my best to stay hydrated (very important). For the last six months or so, I have noticed that I feel bloated pretty much all the time to the point where I feel like I have swallowed a balloon even when I haven't eaten much.
The ways in which Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk of constipation include:
- Lack of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in the brain – impairs control of muscle movement throughout the body. Bowel muscles can become slow and rigid.
- Uncoordinated bowel motions – the bowel muscles may be weak and unable to contract, or they may clench instead of relaxing when trying to pass a motion.
The next step was a prescription for a drug named domperidone (sounds much like the expensive champagne), which is described on the Mayo Clinic website as "a medicine that increases the movements or contractions of the stomach and bowel." This drug is not available in the U.S., but is available online from Canadian pharmacies (prescription required). This medication sounds promising. I have it on order and will share its effectiveness (or lack thereof) once I have taken it. Meanwhile, I thought this info was important enough to share with the PD community.
Update 12/28: I have been taking the domperidone for only 24 hours, but it is already helping a lot! If interested, ask your doctor about it.