Loss of smell linked to Parkinson's disease

Loss of smell linked to Parkinson's disease

While it is a known fact that olfactory dysfunction among Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients is as high as 80-90 per cent, a smell test along with SPECT (Single photon emission computed tomography) scan on elderly relatives of PD patients indicated the chances of getting PD and the time frame, informed Prof Erik Ch Wolters, president of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) Association of Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.

Speaking on the sidelines of a two-day conference on movement disorder at Nimhans on Saturday, Prof Wolters elaborating on the study said that relatives of PD patients undertook a series of smell tests, which showed that those who had problems detecting odours were 15 per cent more at risk of getting PD.

Also, most of the people in this group were found to show symptoms of the disease within five to six years. People suffering from sleep disorder were also at risk, he added.

Diagnosis pivotal

Hence, diagnosis of patients play a very important role.

"We have to listen carefully to patients. I have treated so many patients, yet we have now found out that impulsive behaviour was treated as a symptom ten years ago. However, now we notice that around 10 per cent of PD patients always exhibited this symptom," he said.

Though impressed about the knowledge and expertise in detecting PD in India, Dr Wolters felt there was a need to disseminate the knowledge of PD among other medical practitioners.

While 50 per cent of the people who had PD were sporadic cases, the rest seemed to be genetically induced. But again there was no clear information available about the same, he said. However, there were many young patients who suffered from the disease.

"The incidence of PD in youngsters is about 20 per cent in the world. Among the patients, who come to us, 50 per cent are young. I think, the youngest patient I have seen is a 11-year-old," he said. 
 
Availability of drugs

Accessibility and availability of medicines for PD patients was a major issue in developing countries, as they were expensive, observed Prof Wolters.

A PD patient has to be on medication continuously, or else there would be no improvement in the condition, he added. "The World Federation of Neurology is talking to drug manufacturers to make the drugs easily available everywhere. However, regulating the cost is the onus of the government,” he said.   

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