The search for the source of Parkinson’s disease — and, thus, a potential cure or prevention method — continues. Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that occurs when the brain cells that produce dopamine die off. As dopamine is a chemical needed to control the muscles in the body, this affects a person’s motor skills, bringing on symptoms such as trembling, slow and difficult movement, and partial paralysis.
A recent study has moved the search into some interesting territory, suggesting that “allergic rhinitis” could be a factor in the onset of the disease. Allergic rhinitis involves the mucous membrane inside your nose becoming inflamed due to allergies, most often hay fever. It’s actually a pretty common problem.
How did researchers even think of making this connection in the first place? Well, other studies have shown that ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could help stave off Parkinson’s. Therefore, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota decided to check out whether or not inflammatory conditions could be instigators in the disease.
They looked at 392 people — half of them with Parkinson’s, half without. When the two were compared, the group with the neurological disorder had a 2.9 times greater chance of having had allergic rhinitis at some point than the other group did.
The researchers believe that the overactive allergic response in rhinitis sufferers could cause chemicals to be released in the brain that then destroy some essential dopamine-producing brain cells, which could lead to Parkinson’s.
The Mayo Clinic study did not find that any other inflammatory condition, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, was a potential cause of Alzheimer’s. It is not certain whether the link does not exist or whether the people suffering from these conditions were not effectively represented in the study.
Experts not involved in the study suggest that allergic rhinitis might not be the cause of the neurological disease, but rather just another symptom. So, it’s a case of which came first — the chicken or the egg? Obviously, more studies are required to prove this link and to pinpoint its nature.
If you are one of those unlucky people with allergic rhinitis, there’s no need to panic. Continue treating your allergy symptoms as your doctor or allergist has suggested. If you haven’t sought treatment, this study could give you a reason to see your medical care worker about getting the inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis under control. Moreover, keep an eye out for further developments on the connection between this condition and Parkinson’s.