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Research Links Flu to Parkinson’s disease

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2021 | Parkinsons Disease

New studies find that that there is a possible relationship between flu and the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

The research was published recently in the JAMA Neurology journal, and suggests that the onset of Parkinson’s disease could be triggered by an infection like viral influenza. As part of the study, the researchers went through medical records between 1977 and 2016, and found that there was a correlation between a diagnosis of influenza and the onset of Parkinson’s disease about a decade later.

The records of more than 60,000 people were analysed, and out of these, the researchers found that more than 10,000 received a Parkinson’s diagnosis. The researchers found that people who had suffered from the flu were as much as 73% more likely to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis a decade later, compared to people who had never suffered the flu.

The findings are interesting, but it is too early to say that there is a direct relationship between an influenza diagnosis and an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, the researchers speculate that the kind of brain neurodegeneration that is typical to Parkinson’s disease could be triggered by a variety of inflammatory responses, including those that are caused by a viral infection like the flu. In other words, we can’t completely negate the possibility that a viral infection could possibly increase the risk of suffering from Parkinson’s disease down the line. One article in The New York Times suggests that there was an increase in Parkinson’s cases following the 1918 flu pandemic.

It is flu season, and it is important that you receive your flu shots. Make sure that everyone in your family receives their shots as well.

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the brain that has no complete cure. Symptoms may begin in the form of tremors and stiffness, and may become progressively worse. As the disease progresses, the patient may find it difficult to walk, and there may be problems with mobility, movement and coordination, making it difficult for the person to work.