Recently, I discovered that I have a latex allergy. This emerged as a consequence of playing with balloons and rubber balls as part of my self-designed movement recovery strategies. I found out that both of my parents and also brother are very reactive to latex. So I experimented with trying to understand the effects of this sensitivity on my Parkinson's symptoms by handling the balloons and balls a lot more. After a few days, the impact was clear - it markedly increases my rigidity and associated pain, and dramatically decreases my ability to breath. In short, the interaction between allergies and PD for me are very pronounced.
Intrigued, I then asked many other people with Parkinson's if they were aware of a latex allergy. Of those who had been tested, it was not uncommon. Several respondents raised other known allergies, sensitivities and intolerances which they were already aware of which impact their PD symptoms greatly. I began following this line of research, and I discovered very many curious inter-relationships and joined up a number of seemingly disparate dots.... dots which would never have been connected by the specialist-centric nature of our healthcare systems!
People with Parkinson’s typically suffer from: very shallow (difficulty) breathing; difficulty swallowing; stuffy or congested nasal passages and loss of sense of smell; skin problems such as dermatitis. In the context of PD, these are ascribed as the non-motor symptoms of neurodegeneration. Without the context of Parkinson’s, anyone would immediately recognize these as signs of an allergic reaction!
The expressionless “plastic mask” face, the motor symptoms and cognitive problems associated with PD are all also associated to outcomes of anoxia and hypoxia – a lack of oxygen to the brain – which may occur, for example, due to anaphylactic shock of an allergic reaction.
People prone to severe allergic reactions need to carry shots of adrenaline to prevent severe allergic reactions. In the body, adrenaline is created from dopamine. PD is associated with a dopamine shortage.
Latex allergy, for example, results in immediate or delayed reactions of: problems breathing, problems swallowing, rhinitis, skin and dermatitis flare ups. People with latex intolerances also have food allergies (bananas, cherries, kiwi fruit, wallnuts, pineapple, citrus fruit, apples, potatoes, tomatoes all tend feature in their lists). It is well known that people with PD are very prone to sensitivities to specific foods. Cherries and walnuts struck a cord with me - I already knew these make my mouth sore and lips swollen, but never made the connection with a latex allergy before.
The pioneers of light therapies for Parkinson's postulate that PD is not just created by a dopamine shortage, but an imbalance between melatonin (the sleep hormone) and dopamine:
and that the PD brain produces excessive melatonin at the wrong times of day. Melatonin and its amino acid precusor tryptophan, occur naturally in food. Foods high in these substances include... bananas, tomatoes, cherries, kiwi, wallnuts and oranges... very similiar to those foods associated with latex allergy.
People with spina bifida are highly prone to latex allergy. The cognitive impairments and walking problems associated with spina bifida are also common in PD. Postural imbalances are strongly present in people with PD. Spina bifida is caused by folate deficiency. Current research results show that PD is associated with folate deficiency and folate replacement greatly improves symptoms, see:
Eighty percent of people who are allergic to beef, lamb and pork have been bitten by ticks. Tick bites also cause Lyme Disease, which has symptoms very similar to Parkinson’s. Many people with PD find that high meat protein diets can apparently prevent their PD drugs being effective, in particular beef, lamb and pork.
Do you have a neurological condition and also known allergies? We'd like to hear from you in the comments section below how the allergy impacts on the symptoms.
For more research on this topic, please see: