Constipation, trouble swallowing, as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) could be early warning indicators of the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published online in the journal Gut.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are assumed to precede the onset of cerebrovascular disease, like a stroke or an aneurysm in the brain, or Alzheimer’s disease, although it has been proposed (Braak’s hypothesis) that gut disorders may also precede the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
To verify this hypothesis, the researchers compared 24, 624 individuals with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease of unidentified origin to those diagnosed with different neurological conditions–Alzheimer’s disease (19,046) or cerebrovascular disease (23,942)—or none of these (24,624; comparison group).
The researchers next tested the identical hypothesis in a different method, splitting all adults in the network who were recently diagnosed with any of 18 gut disorders into separate groups, one for every condition of interest.
Individuals in these groups were paired with people who did not have the specific gut ailment and their medical records were examined for 5 years to see how many of them acquired Parkinson’s disease or other neurological illnesses.
Gut Conditions Linked Higher Risk Of Parkinson’s Disease
Both studies found that four gut conditions were linked to an increased chance of Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.
In particular, gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying), dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and also constipation were all linked to a more than doubling in the chance of Parkinson’s disease in the five years prior the diagnosis, while IBS without diarrhea was linked to a 17% increased risk.
According to the researchers, appendix removal appeared to be protective, raising doubts regarding its potential role in the illness processes that lead to Parkinson’s disease.
There was no link between inflammatory bowel disease or vagotomy (the elimination of all or part of the vagus nerve in order to treat peptic ulcer) and an increased risk.