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Parkinson's Disease & Urinary Tract Infections

By Michaele Curtis ; Updated July 27, 2017

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common ailment that involves inflammation of the urinary system. Certain groups are particularly prone to contracting urinary tract infections, including the elderly, infants and pregnant women. Another group prone to developing urinary tract infections is those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a serious nervous system disorder.

Urinary System

The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Together, these structures work to remove waste from the circulating blood, convert it to urine and then express it from the body. The kidneys filter the blood for waste products and create urine with the urea, excess water and other impurities they remove. The ureters continuously draw the urine from the kidneys and dump it into the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it is full and then releases the urine into the urethra. The urethra leads the urine out of the body.

Urinary Tract Infections

Sometimes, bacteria that are normally present on the skin, in the intestinal tract or in the stool are spread into the urinary system. This normally occurs through the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body. In many cases, your body’s own immune system will disarm any foreign bacteria. However, when it does not, the bacteria begin to colonize the urethra. As the bacteria reproduce, they travel up the urinary system, infecting the bladder and sometimes the kidneys. As a rule, the higher up the urinary tract that the bacteria travel, the more serious the infection has become.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a motor system disorder caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain. No one knows what causes this disease but research suggests that the disease is inherited. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by tremors in the hands and arms, as well as the legs and face. In contrast, the patient’s trunk will be rigid and stiff. Parkinson’s disease symptoms also include bradykinesia, a condition of slow movements. A patient may also have impaired balance. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but the symptoms can be managed through prescription medication.

Parkinson’s Disease and UTIs

Parkinson’s disease patients are prone to urinary tract infections. Their condition is characterized by a loss of nerve cells. When the bladder is full, it alerts the brain through nerve cells and the brain uses additional nerve cells to tell the muscles to relax and allow the urine to be excreted. On the other hand, the patient may be able to urinate but does not have enough muscle control to completely empty all urine from the bladder. Thus, Parkinson’s disease patients have a hard time emptying their bladder, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.


There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and scientists are still unsure of what causes it. However, the disease can be managed through medication and UTIs caused by the condition can be prevented through vigilant hygiene. The patient’s genitals should be kept clean and dry. After bowel movements, wiping front to back will help prevent bacteria from being spread to the urethra. Many Parkinson’s disease patients also use a catheter, which is a tube inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. The catheter allows the bladder to be completely drained and reduces the risk of UTIs.

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