Non-motor symptoms do not relate to movement, yet they can still cause disruption to a person’s life. An embarrassing night time accident could be a warning sign of the condition.
The European Parkinson’s disease Association (EPDA) explained what causes Parkinson’s.
Specifically, there is a loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain – why this occurs in the first place is yet to be explored.
In addition to the presence of microscopic protein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, autonomic dysfunction can occur.
Autonomic dysfunction is an example of a non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
This term, “autonomic dysfunction”, describes when the autonomic nervous system (ANS) stops working.
The ANS is part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) that controls involuntary or unconscious actions within the body.
For example, the ANS regulates the heart rate, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, digestion and sexual function.
One sign the ANS has gone haywire can reveal itself in an embarrassing occurrence during nighttime – bedwetting.
Bladder problems, including urgency, frequency and incontinence could be a result of Parkinson’s.
The bladder has two main responsibilities: storing urine and periodically eliminating urine.
Typically, the bladder expands like a balloon when full, signalling to you that you need to go to the toilet.
As it continues to fill, more urgent signals are sent so that you’re influenced to release yourself.
However, the sphincter muscles surrounding the urethra (where urine exits the body) maintain a watertight seal, enabling the person to delay emptying their bladder.
This enables a person to be able to choose when they do and do not use the toilet.
When a healthy individual decides to urinate, the brain sends a signal to the bladder telling it to contract; moreover, the sphincter muscle relax, enabling urine to exit the body.
According to the EPDA, the bladder can hold around half a litre of urine; and an average person urinates between four to six times per day.
Parkinson’s can affect bladder control, as the brain can’t signal to the bladder to retain or expel urine.
This type of symptom doesn’t affect everyone with Parkinson’s, as the condition is unique to everybody who experiences it.
Instead of having trouble with the bladder, one could suffer from constipation.
Other examples of autonomic dysfunction include swallowing difficulties (known as dysphagia) and low blood pressure.
An inability to regulate body heat may reveal itself when a person with the condition profusely sweats, even though it’s not warm.
And people with the condition may experience loss of sense of smell or taste.
There are an array of symptoms that can arise from Parkinson’s, so if you’re concerned do speak with your GP.
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