In Parkinson’s disease, motor symptoms worsen with stomach infection caused by H. pylori bacteria

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Parkinsons | Monday, October 24, 2016 - 12:30 PM

In Parkinson’s disease, motor symptoms worsen with stomach infection caused by H. pylori bacteriaIn Parkinson’s disease, motor symptoms worsen with stomach infection caused by H. Pylori bacteria. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder which can lead to tremors and decreasing motor coordination.

Researchers studied patients with and without a common infection of the stomach lining caused by H. pylori. The researchers found that one-third of the participants with the infection fared worse in motor symptoms, compared to those without the infection.

Over half of the global population carries H. pylori, with the highest infection rates in Asia. The bacteria infect mucus membranes in the gut, leading to chronic infections. Even with proper treatment, the infection may linger indefinitely.

A possible explanation for the findings suggests that the infection reduces the uptake of levodopa, a common drug prescribed to aid in Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, chronic H. pylori infections may aggravate or trigger Parkinson’s disease. On the other hand, researchers suggest that Parkinson’s disease may increase a person’s risk of contracting H. pylori.

As the present study was small in size, larger studies are required in order to confirm the findings. As of now though, the link between H. pylori and motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease is strong enough to prompt further investigation.

Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Stiffness and slowing down is normal as we get older, but there are many motor symptoms that are not. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in the elderly have to be carefully considered, because early diagnosis and treatment can help minimize dopamine loss in the brain and help maintain muscle function.

Here’s an overview of some typical motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Resting tremor – this often begins in one finger and involves a shaking movement. It can appear when a person’s muscles are relaxed (at rest).
  • Bradykinesia – causes difficulty with repetitive movement. It means a person could have a hard time with everyday tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or brushing teeth.
  • Rigidity – the muscle tone of the affected limb is stiff and doesn’t relax. This leads to a decreased range of motion.
  • Postural instability – this is the tendency to be unstable when standing upright.

There are also secondary motor symptoms. For example, freezing of the gait is a sign of Parkinson’s. People who experience freezing will hesitate before taking a step. This symptom can be temporary, so a person then transitions to a normal stride once they get past that first awkward step.

While we can’t say why, it seems as if freezing happens in certain situations, such as when starting to walk, when pivoting, when crossing through a doorway, or approaching a chair. Micrographia is also considered a secondary motor symptom. This is the shrinking of handwriting, which occurs due to bradykinesia – the cause of difficulty with repetitive actions. A mask-like expression on the face and unwanted accelerations, when one’s movements are too quick, are secondary signs of Parkinson’s as well.

Below are more secondary motor symptoms:

  • Stooped posture
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Drooling
  • Cramping
  • Dystonia (muscle spasm)
  • Akathisia (restlessness)

Not everyone with Parkinson’s will develop all the signs and symptoms outlined above. Each patient’s experience can be different.

The majority of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease also experience non-motor symptoms. These are signs that do not involve physical tasks or mobility. Normally, non-motor symptoms are not visible to a person’s family and friends, but they can be very upsetting to the actual sufferer.

Some experts believe that non-motor symptoms come along after the first signs of motor symptoms. Some of the early non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are listed here.

  • Loss of smell – this is often linked to brain degeneration.
  • REM sleep disorder – people act out their dreams, which can potentially lead to injury.
  • Mood disorders – some people become unmotivated and are more dependent on family members.
  • Constipation – bowels can malfunction due to problems with the nervous system.
  • Orthostatic hypotension – this is low blood pressure when standing up, can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
  • Bladder problems – problems with nervous system can impact bladder function.
  • Weight loss or weight gain – this can happen due to difficulty choosing and preparing foods.
  • Vision problems – dry eye is common in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Dental problems – brushing and flossing can be difficult and thus lead to more cavities.
  • Fatigue – this can occur due to sleep disturbance, depression, or muscle stress.
  • Depression – this is common early in the disease and is treatable.
  • Cognitive impairment – such as memory loss, confusion, or slower thinking.
  • Skin problems – skin can become very oily or very dry.

About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year, but this does not take into account those who have not been officially diagnosed. Some people could be going about their lives with the mild signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease without realizing it. While Parkinson’s disease risk does increase with age, it is important to note that at least four percent of those suffering from this progressive disorder are diagnosed before the age of 50.


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Related Reading:

Early Parkinson’s disease may lead to non-motor symptoms such as drooling, anxiety, and constipation

Inhaled medication for Parkinson’s disease may improve symptom management

Sources:

http://repository.um.edu.my/105506/1/Tan%20AH%20…%20Lim%20SY%20-%20HP%20%26%20PD%20-%20PRD%202015.pdf

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