I am convinced that, in many forms of Parkinson's Disease, a lack of oxygen to the brain and a worsening ability to breathe form one of the vicious circles which lead to increasing degeneration, if left unchecked.
Indeed, one symptom I see a lot in people with PD is that our mouths hang open (apparently associated with some forms of dystonia and is also associated with infections of the lymphoid tissue and adenoidal issues) and we therefore normally persistently mouth breathe. This "hanging jaw" issue was certainly true for me, as was very shallow breathing more generally. Breathing through the mouth alone can be detrimental to a good oxygen supply to the brain. PD is strongly associated with issues with the nose too - the loss of sense of smell is one of the key characteristic symptoms, for example.
I have also been researching, and reflecting from my own experience, on how inflammation has a key role in worsening the symptoms of PD, and how we are especially prone to allergies.
Indeed, a perpetually blocked or "stuffy" nose is common with Parkinson's too. Again, this was true for me and looking back, it was the case long before I was diagnosed: I had become a persistent mouth breather, and had stopped being able to breathe through my nose without a great deal of effort, many years before my PD diagnosis!
The Holistic Wellness expert, Deb Helfrich, who helped me start the Out-Thinking Parkinson's project, noticed my issues with breathing early on. She set me on the path to seek to unblock my nasal problems, and to try to revert to a natural nose breather. We tried Himalayan pink sea salt inhalers, and then progressed to a sea salt nasal spray, available on the market for allergy relief. We found it really helped. Later, I added in anti-snoring plugs which open up the nasal passages. I began to both spray my nose and insert the plugs each and every time I became symptomatic throughout the day. Cumulatively, as the weeks passed, this process worked for me. I now rarely have the slack jaw issue and automatically nose breathe, even at night.
However, I am still prone to allergic reactions, and when this happens my nose can become blocked again. An important point here is that I have learned to distinguish my actual PD symptoms from inflammations: although the latter are usually bundled into the "non-motor" issues of PD itself, we now know there is an important distinction even though there is an extremely strong interaction. Moreover, one of the things which really struck me - and has stayed with me - from my research into the connections between allergies and PD is that post-mortem brains of people with Parkinson's have been found to have un-naturally high levels of histamine!
Due to these factors, I set about seeing if there was anything which could provide even more of an anti-histamine effect over just the nasal wash out method described above. I was wary of taking anti-histamine drugs, because I'd read these might make things worse with long term usage. Being an afficinado of the use of light for medical problems, I did some more research and discovered there are little red light - or even infrared - gadgets which you can stick up your nose to create anti-histamine effects, and that this idea was based on sound science! I sourced this one online in the UK, which I purchased for £20:
I am writing this post now because I've found it does, for me, work very well for my Parkinson's Disease applications. I use it a few times each day and, with just 3 minutes of looking silly due to a bright red glowing nose, it really does leave my nasal passages clear, and furthermore, I beleive it is really helping to keep my allergic reactions at bay. So I do feel it may be worth considering trying this red light allergy relief type of technology, as an additional tool to your Parkinson's Disease management toolbox. As ever, if you do decide to try something like this yourself, we'd love to hear and share your own experience.
Sources we've found for these device:
UK: from LloydsPharmacy - this is the product I use.
USA: Bionette have a similar product.