Recent studies have suggested that digestive problems, such as constipation and swallowing difficulties, may raise the incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
While research into the link between the digestive system and Alzheimer’s, strokes, and brain aneurysms has progressed, the research into the link between specific digestive diseases and Parkinson’s has lagged.
In any case, a recent study has given light on the subject, indicating that some gastrointestinal disorders might act as early indications of Parkinson’s disease. The authors argue that the study’s most important finding is the accumulation of strong observational evidence suggesting that clinical gastrointestinal abnormalities may be able to foretell the future development of Parkinson’s disease.
The study compared medical information from three groups totaling 24,624 people (19,046 with Alzheimer’s disease and 23,942 with cerebrovascular illness).
Age, gender, race, ethnicity, and duration since diagnosis were used to pair these cohorts. They looked at how often GI issues occurred in the six years prior to each diagnosis.
Researchers looked at the medical histories of people with 18 different gut diseases and monitored their health for five years, and they found that people with gut problems had an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
More than twice as many people diagnosed with Parkinson’s had gastrointestinal issues within the prior five years, including constipation, trouble swallowing, and Gastroparesis (delayed stomach-to-intestinal digestion). Furthermore, a 17% greater risk was connected to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) without diarrhea.
People who later acquired Parkinson’s disease were more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as functional dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, and diarrhea with fecal incontinence. Alzheimer’s disease, aneurysms, and strokes all share these symptoms in their early stages.
Inflammatory bowel illness, for example, did not appear to increase the chance of developing Parkinson’s, the study showed.
The results highlight the importance of increasing awareness of digestive issues among people at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, experts recommend more research into the connections between gastrointestinal issues and dementia, stroke, and brain aneurysms.
According to Parkinson’s UK, there will be approximately 172,000 Britons living with Parkinson’s by the year 2030. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 8.5 million cases of the disease worldwide.
In response to these results, Parkinson’s UK’s associate director of research, Clare Bale, said that this study strengthens the mounting evidence that digestive problems may serve as early indications of Parkinson’s.
A better understanding of the involvement of the digestive system in the onset of Parkinson’s could lead to earlier diagnosis, better symptom management, and possibly measures to delay or reverse the progression of the illness.
When assessing people at risk for Parkinson’s disease, even before neurological symptoms occur, vice dean for research at the University of California, Davis Kim Barrett advocated paying close attention to certain gut disorders. She did note that the current findings are correlational, leaving the door open to the possibility of a third risk factor connecting GI issues and PD.