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The COVID-19 symptom that could increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

It may appear to be one of the less sinister symptoms of COVID-19, but experts fear a loss of smell experienced by coronavirus sufferers may lead to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease in the future.

It may appear to be one of the less sinister symptoms of COVID-19, but experts fear the loss of the sense of smell experienced by many coronavirus sufferers may lead to an increased risk of developing Parkinson's Disease in the future.

Researchers from Melbourne's Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health have dubbed the potential long-term neurological consequences of COVID-19 the "silent wave" and are calling for urgent action to make accurate diagnostic tools to identify early neurodegeneration readily available.

Their concerns are outlined in a study published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, which notes three out of four COVID-19 sufferers report a loss of their sense of smell. Meanwhile 90 percent of people in the early stages of the disease experience the same symptom a decade before they present with motor symptoms.

"Loss of the sense of smell can appear as little cause for concern, but it is a good reflector of what's happening inside the brain, which is an inflammatory response in olfactory system," Florey Institute researcher Leah Beauchamp told nine.com.au.

It would not be the first time a rise in neurological diseases followed a pandemic - five years after the Spanish Flu swept the world a century ago there was a two-to-three fold increase in cases of Parkinson's Disease.

Inflammation is understood to play a major role in the development or Parkinson's Disease. In respect to COVID-19, it is believed the virus causes inflammation and, once that inflammation gets into the brain, it starts a string of events which can lead to Parkinson's Disease.

"We believe that loss of smell presents a new way forward in detecting someone's risk of developing Parkinson's disease early," Ms Beauchamp said.

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There are fears people infected with COVID-19 who remained asymptomatic other than a loss of the sense of smell may not even realise they had the virus, but could still be at greater risk of developing Parkinson's Disease as a result of their infection.

Ms Beauchamp said although Parkinson's Disease was often thought of as an old person's disease, it did not discriminate on the basis of age. Anybody experiencing a persistent loss of smell together with problems sleeping or increased levels of anxiety should consult a doctor with their concerns.

"The world was caught off guard (after the Spanish Flu) but it doesn't need to be again," the Florey Institute's Professor Kevin Barnham said.

"We now know what needs to be done, Alongside a strategized public health approach, tools for early diagnosis and better treatments are going to be key."

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians.

Visit the site here or call 1800512348. For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/experts-fear-covid-19-increases-risk-of-developing-parkinsons-disease/cc3e7cb0-e648-4374-a917-b81b38cbfe44

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