Covid: The viral infection could be linked to Parkinson’s – research

Coronavirus: 'Prepare for another surge in winter' says Nabarro

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Scientists have found a potential link between COVID-19 and Parkinson’s disease.

One of the earliest indicators of Parkinson’s is a sleep disorder known as dream-enactment disorder (DED); this occurs when people physically act out their dreams.

In research conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, scientists found a two to fourfold increase in the prevalence of DED during the pandemic.

Data suggested individuals were more likely to experience this after a Covid infection.

Describing DED, Professor Yaping Liu said individuals “may punch or flail their arms in the air, make running movements, or even jump out of bed, sometimes resulting in injuries to themselves or their partner”.

Globally, DED affects two to three percent of adults over the age of 60.

Professor Liu, lead author of the study, said: “We found the prevalence of dream-enactment behaviour was two to four times higher than previous studies that have been conducted in the general population during non-pandemic times.

“Moreover, in those subjects who reported a COVID-19 diagnosis, it was two or three times higher, compared with subjects without infection.”

Exeter University’s Professor Adam Zeman said of the link: “If COVID-19 truly raises the rate of dream-enactment, there may be a variety of explanations, from anxiety to obstructive sleep apnoea.”

Furthermore, while the study shows the potential for a link between COVID-19 and Parkinson’s, it doesn’t provide conclusive evidence of a link.

Further research is required in this area in order to build up a stronger body of evidence.

Professor Liu agreed there could be other causes for the rise in DED: “Dream-enactment behaviours can also occur as a result of other sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, and have also been reported by people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or who are experiencing nightmares.”

Meanwhile, in the UK there are growing concerns about the numbers of people with long Covid.

Close to two million people are living with prolonged symptoms of Covid, the equivalent of around one in 35 in people.

The NHS recently reported the numbers of people seeking help for long Covid had doubled while charity Asthma and Lung UK said calls to their helpline had risen sharply.

Such is the devastating impact of long Covid, some patients are now considering buying their own oxygen.

Long Covid symptoms can vary from person to person and in severity from day to day.

Campaigners are calling for more investment in long Covid care to deal with the rising number of patients.

Symptoms of the condition include but are not limited to:
• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain or tightness
• Brain fog
• Insomnia
• Heart palpitations
• Dizziness
• Pins and needles
• Joint pain
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Tinnitus
• Earache
• Digestive issues
• Fever.

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