As reported in Parkinson’s News Today; the way that COVID-19 interacts with pre-existing conditions is now being uncovered as the novel virus makes it way across the world. A new study now suggest that coronavirus exacerbates certain symptoms for patients with Parkinson’s, causing them to need changes in their therapies. They found that the virus interacts with Parkinson’s symptoms in a range of ways, overall making both motor and non-motor skill symptoms more severe. A third of their sample needed additional therapies to treat their heightened disorder.
Parkinson’s disease is a rare progressive disorder which affects movement. The disease affects the central nervous system, causing patients to slowly loss control. It begins with subtle tumors in one hand or on one side of the body, and then tends to progress to both sides of causing stiffness, poor balance, slowness, slurred speech, and finally cognitive issues. At the later stages of the disease, patients cannot live independently and can be bound to a wheelchair. The disease tends to develop after age 50, usually taking affect in old age.
Parkinson’s + Coronavirus
Researchers in Italy took the time to measure and monitor 48 individuals with the disease, screening them remotely and evaluating the severity of the disease. They matched 12 patients with Parkinson’s who’d had coronavirus to a control group of 36 patients with Parkinson’s who tested negative for the virus, controlling for factors like age, sex, disease, and disease duration.
They found that the patients who’d had the infectious virus were affected in a myriad of ways- including increased daily “off episodes” when symptoms are not muted; a greater risk of diarrhea, fatigue, and urinary problems, and mild difficulty with cognitive functions. These symptoms led doctors and neurologists to prescribe their patients more dopaminergic therapy and specific medications for each increased symptom.
While patients with Parkinson’s are not at heightened risk for catching COVID, since the population group is mostly older, they are already more likely to be affected. However, these findings suggests they may experience changes in how they treat the existing disorder, and patients may want to speak with their doctors if they have had the virus. We are still in the early days of understanding the virus, and they expect with time they will paint a fuller picture the full extent of the impact.
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