The problem with Parkinson's disease is that something that's only a minor aggravation in a person without the disease, can be a much more significant aggravation in a person dealing with Parkinson's. Such is the case with constipation. Constipation is a very common issue in Parkinson's disease. In fact, researchers suspected that it might be even more common than people report. So they conducted studies to try to gather some objective information about this frustrating symptom. They found that the problem is much worse than we thought. The good news is that I have an answer for these patients.
Two studies published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease investigated constipation in Parkinson's patients. In one study, the researchers measured dysfunction in the colon. Then they compared their findings to patients' reports of their bouts with constipation. In the other study, the researchers actually used a wireless electromagnetic capsule that the participants ingested to track regional transit times through the gastrointestinal tract.
After all, the experience of constipation is subjective, and it can be hard to know what symptoms and situations “count” as true constipation. So these objective studies helped the researchers determine just how bad the situation is for Parkinson's patients. They measured both colonic transit time and colonic volume and found that people with Parkinson's experience both significant delays and increased volume compared to people without the disease. In fact, a whopping 79% of patients in the early stages of Parkinson's had delays in colonic transit time, and 66% had increases in colonic volume.
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There was some good news for the patients: the researchers didn't find any differences in the rate of gastric emptying between them and members of the control group. They also didn't have issues with medication absorption. However, the researchers did note that they were working with early-stage patients, and malabsorption may become an issue down the road.
The researchers used a variety of questionnaires to assess self-reported constipation and found that the patients reported constipation less often than they were objectively experiencing colonic dysfunction. The researchers believe these results indicate a need for better measures of how to define constipation for these patients and an investigation into the relationship between objective dysfunction and subjective symptoms.
The bottom line is that if you have Parkinson's disease, you're likely suffering from colonic dysfunction, even if you don't realize it. And I believe that constipation can make the symptoms of Parkinson's worse. So I strongly encourage my patients with Parkinson's disease to take steps to ensure that their bowels are emptying regularly. One way to do that is to take Advanced Constipation Relief. It helps to both promote healthy digestion and relieve constipation, so it's a great choice for patients battling the symptoms of Parkinson's.
And if you don't have Parkinson's but do suffer from occasional constipation, this is a good choice for you as well. Constipation is not only aggravating, I believe it can also be dangerous to your body over the long haul.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD