Severe influenza may double the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease

“The Cleveland Clinic Wellness newsletter wrote this post about an article in Motion Disorders. I include this for your interest because Parkinson’s Disease is complicated. Research of exceptional breadth and depth is being done in the US to try to find causes so better treatments can be fashioned. This effort is a reason to be proud of US medical research. If PD is your interest, please read this statement from the National Institutes of Health dated November 2015. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/parkinsons_disease/parkinsons_research.htm#pathology

Among known associations is that a high Vitamin D blood level is associated with lower incidence of PD. “In some cases, environmental factors may also have a protective effect. Population-based studies have suggested, for example, that people with high levels of vitamin D in their blood have a much lower risk of developing PD compared with people with very low concentrations of vitamin D. Further research is need to determine if vitamin D deficiency puts people at higher risk for PD, but such findings suggest the possibility that vitamin D supplements may have a beneficial effect. However, there may be genetic factors that cause people with low vitamin D levels to have higher rates of PD in which case vitamin D supplements would not be helpful.”

The NIH has worded this so the public won’t take Vitamin D supplements only to lower the risk of PD. However low Vitamin D, i.e.,hypovitaminosis D, is common in my practice experience. Low vitamin D is easy and inexpensive to treat. Get your Vit D blood level done at least once to be sure you’re in the middle of the normal range, about 50 ng/DL. Bill Chesnut, MD

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Here’s another reason to get your annual flu shot: Severe influenza may double the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Getting your annual flu shot is always a good idea, but new research finds a particularly convincing reason to inoculate yourself against the virus. According to a study published in the journal Movement Disorders, people who contract a severe case of the flu may double their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life. Parkinson’s is an incurable nervous system disorder that causes shaking, stiffness and, in later stages, loss of balance. Cases of the flu are considered severe when there are complications involved or when they require medical treatment, especially hospitalization. Most people get better on their own within a week or two. While anyone at any age can suffer serious flu complications, those at greatest risk include: people over the age of 50, children between 6 months and 2 years, women who are more than 3 months pregnant during flu season, anyone living in a long-term care facility, and anyone with chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.