Parkinson’s disease worsens over time and affects mostly the motor system. The cause of the disease is unknown, but it is believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. Parkinson’s disease typically occurs in people over the age of 60, of whom about one per cent are affected. Symptoms of the disease usually emerge slowly and it is important to be vigilant of the signs. The sooner the disease is recognised, the sooner treatment can begin. Noticing this change in your nose could be a warning sign and is advised to not be ignored. What is it?
A loss of smell, or hyposmia, is a symptom in most Parkinson’s patients.
It is not entirely known what causes the condition in patients, but it’s believed to be linked to protein clumping, which is found in all people with Parkinson’s.
The Parkinson’s Foundation said: “Not all people with reduced sense of smell will go on to develop Parkinson’s, but most people with PD have some loss of their sense of smell.
“In fact, reduced sense of smell is often an early sign of Parkinson’s. Hyposmia is an under-recognised symptom, as it is not a common concern for doctors to ask about or for patients to report.”
Most people do not connect losing their sense of smell to a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
The condition can impact a person’s quality of lie, affecting taste and in some cases leading to weight loss.
Scientists are unsure why smell loss occurs in Parkinson’s, one popular theory is that the Parkinson’s process may start in the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain that controls sense of smell, and the gut.
Some researchers believe clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein may form in these parts of the body first, before migrating to other parts of the brain.
There are around 127,000 people in the UK with Parkinson’s disease. That’s about one in every 500 people.
Most patients begin to develop symptoms after they turn 50 years old.
Men are slightly more likely to develop the brain condition than women.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation said: “While there is no treatment for smell loss, this symptom is valuable in research toward earlier diagnosis and therapeutic intervention.
“Early detection is a crucial step to understanding the causes of and developing better treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
“Even before the typical tremor and slowness of movement occur, it may be possible to detect early changes in the brain and symptoms that are associated with PD.”
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include cramped handwriting, tremors, uncontrollable movements, limb stiffness and voice changes.
If you suspect you or someone you know may have any of these symptoms you should speak with your GP.