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New smell test can detect Parkinson's in the early stages
Parkinson's disease can be diagnosed at an early stage using a simple olfactory test. This is what the researcher and neurologist Heinz Reichmann, professor of neurology at the University Clinic TU Dresden reports at this year's Neurologist Congress in Prague.
Parkinson's is one of the very slowly progressing neurological diseases. The incurable disease usually begins between the ages of 50 and 60. The syndrome rarely occurs before the age of 40. According to the latest surveys, around 400,000 people in Germany suffer from Parkinson's disease. The earlier the disease is discovered, the better the options for relieving symptoms at an early stage. However, a cure is still not within reach.
First early test developed
Professor Heinz Reichmann from Dresden may have discovered a first early test. In a study, the neurologist examined patients who lost their sense of smell between 50 and 60 years. Every tenth subject showed the first early signs of Parkinson's after an ultrasound examination and further biochemical analyzes. In the second experimental setup with laboratory mice, the researcher was able to demonstrate that the degenerative disease begins in the nose. He found that a collection of so-called “Lewy bodies” first formed there. These have been the first Parkinson's warnings for a long time.
Parkinson expands from cell to cell Reichmann presented his sensational findings at the "European Neurological Society" congress in Prague. This is organized every year by the association of the same name, which is chaired by the Parkinson's expert. At the event, the doctor explained that the disease does not begin in the brain areas for motor skills as assumed, but in the area of the nerve cells that are responsible for the sense of smell. There, so to speak, the disease moves from cell to cell until it reaches the stomach of humans. Only from there does Parkinson's disease reach the brain via the vagus nerve. With this discovery, it may be possible to "discover the disease much earlier and stop it from spreading," said the neurologist. A cure is not yet possible today.
First warning symptoms of Parkinson's disease The first symptoms usually appear to patients when around 70 percent of the dopaminergic cells have already died. This means that Parkinson's is already very advanced. Many go to the orthopedic surgeon because, for example, the arm swings later when running than usual, shoulder pain occurs or one-sided tension in the muscles becomes noticeable. Reichmann reports that a further study, however, has shown that the main symptoms lie not only in the coordination of movement, but also in 90 percent of the patients complain of the loss of smell. Another 45 percent complain of chronic constipation, 10 percent suffer from double vision, 30 percent of men suffer from impotence and just as many women suffer from “poor feeling”. Another 50 percent struggle with urinary incontinence, 30 percent suffer from diffuse pain and another 30 percent from depression. Complaints such as anhedonia, the inability to enjoy, which at least another 30 percent of the patients suffer from, are also striking. In addition, there is profuse sweating and oily skin. In the last years of the disease, many of those affected also suffer from dementia. It was also reported at the congress that screaming while sleeping can be a first indication of Parkinson's.
Depression and dementia are serious side effects According to the scientist, "latest studies show that these symptoms such as depression and dementia cost patients more quality of life than the limitations of the musculoskeletal system." To make life easier for patients. Although there is still no treatment for every condition, there are “good medicines for depression, constipation and excessive sweating,” says the researcher.
To date, the exact causes that lead to the onset of Parkinson's disease have not been fully researched. A preventive or curative therapy could not be developed up to now. Many researchers and medical practitioners believe that Parkinson's is predisposed to a certain genetic disposition. Patients are then more susceptible to environmental pollution and thus show an increased risk of illness. (sb)
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