APDA American Parkinson Disease Association
Information & Referral Center

Constipation and Gastrointestinal Issues in PD

Relevant Publications - Downloadable

“Bowel Management in MSA”
Published by MSA Trust, July 2015
This 8-page fact sheet addresses constipation specifically in Multiple System Atrophe, but the impairment of the autonomic nervous system is similar enough to Parkinson’s disease as to be useful here.  There is a nine-point list of contributors to constipation, other problems that can occur due to bowel problems, management tips, and medication options.

"Constipation & Parkinson's Disease" by Robert S. Jenco, PharmD and Mary L. Wagner, PharmD
American Parkinson Disease Association, September 2010
Six-page educational supplement addresses causes of constipation, exercise and physical activity, dietary habits, medication that can cause or worsen constipation, change in lifestyle, and medication to treat constipation. 
En Espanol:"Constipasion y enfermedad de Parkinson."

“Constipation in Parkinson’s Disease,” by Julie H Carter
Published by the National Parkinson Foundation
Short forum post, authored by Janis Miyasaki, a Toronto PD specialist, explains possible consequences of not treating constipation in Parkinson's Disease and offers the latest self-help advice before bringing the problem to your physician.

"Looking After Your Bladder and Bowels When You Have Parkinson's"
Published by Parkinson's Disease Society of the United Kingdom, 2013
35-page booklet covers bladder and bowel problems, how they can be treated and who to contact for professional advice. Also gives practical tips on what you can do to make living with bladder and bowel problems easier. Available in PDF or Word.

Relevant Online Information

"Gastrointestinal and Urinary Dysfunction in PD" by Dr. Ronald Pfeiffer
Parkinson's Disease Foundation Newsletter, Adapted from the PDF News & Reveiw, Spring 2007
Discusses dental problems and saliva, dysphagia, stomach problems, bowel dysfunction, bladder and urinary difficulties as they relate to Parkinson's Disease, as well as possible treatments for each issue.

“Gastroparesis in PD - Symptoms & Treatment Options,” by Dr. Maria De Leon
Published by defeatparkinsons.com, July 19, 2016
Gastroparesis is the slow emptying of food from the stomach to intestines.  This poor motility can cause several unpleasant symptoms, and serious complications.  Medications commonly used in PD can cause and worsen the problem.  This blog post outlines the steps to diagnosis and several treatment options.

Relevant Online Lectures and Webinars

“When Parkinson’s Interferes with Gastrointestinal Function”
By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, June 24, 2014
This 63-minute audio with slides by Dr. Peter A. LeWitt discusses the effect of Parkinson’s disease on the gastrointestinal system, with particular focus on constipation.  Improving GI function can have a positive impact on the consistency of benefit from Parkinson’s disease medications.  Highlights of recent research into Parkinson’s disease originating in the GI tract, developing biomarkers for early diagnosis, and others.

“Why Might Constipation be a Symptom of Parkinson’s?”
By the Michael J. Fox Foundation Third Thursdays Webinar Series, July 16, 2015
This 62-minute audio with slides is presented as an interview of two neurologists and explains how the gastrointestinal musculature (stomach, intestines and anal sphincter) is well enervated and, therefore, affected by the loss of dopamine and deposits of alpha synuclein, just as the brain is.  Management options are discussed, and recent research into the microbiome and the gut/brain connection in Parkinson’s disease.

This list of resources was compiled by Denise Dagan and Robin Riddle for the Stanford APDA I&RC in April 2012. Links last updated by Denise Dagan in February 2017.

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