Parkinson's Disease cases linked to heavy exposure to toxins and cleaning products
Dr. Rajesh Baby
SPECIALIST - NEUROLOGY
UAE doctors warn over overuse of cleaning products
Jasmine Al Kuttab/Abu Dhabi
Filed on September 4, 2017
Doctors in the UAE are urging "cleanliness freaks" to be aware of the over usage of common household cleaning products, including methanol and ethanol, as exposure to the chemicals can have devastating and lifelong results. "People should take proper precautions and make sure they are using gloves and masks when cleaning. Look for products that are less harmful to use around the house," said Dr Rajesh Baby, specialist - neurology, Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi.
Dr Baby explained that although the main causes of Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Parkinsonism are often unknown, or inherited, there are staggering cases of the disease, which have been found to be linked to heavy exposure to toxins and cleaning products. "There is a deficiency in dopamine when one suffers from PD. This creates movement disorder and the causes have been linked to various factors, including the intake of toxins and drugs."
Exposure to solvents, which is often used for consumer and industrial uses, has also been linked to PD and Parkinsonism.
Solvents are often found in vapour degreasing of metal parts, dry-cleaning solutions, carpet cleaners, paint removers/strippers, paints, extraction solvent for waxes and oils, as well as spot removers. He noted that certain common metals, are also suggested to be silent killers, including carbon monoxide and carbon disulfide, which can be found in industrial waste, oil plants and heavy metal plants.
"Exposure to these can also produce PD in the long term."
He said that as little as one to two years of exposure to chemicals can lead to signs of PD. "Those working in danger zones have to be medically screened every one-two years for toxicity and any symptoms or features of PD."
"Some people are exposed to these toxins for 10 years until they develop symptoms, it depends on the person and the amount of exposure."
He pointed out that although the majority of the causes are without any cause, staying away from harmful substances that can cause brain cells to degenerate is crucial.
Dr Baby stressed that common medications have also been linked to PD. "Drugs that are used for treating psychosis, schizophrenia, seizures, and anti vomiting, can trigger symptoms of PD in the long term.
No cure but manageable
Dr Baby said that although there is no cure for PD, it can be managed. "If the causes are idiopathic, then the majority of the cases will have the disease for life, but assuming it was due to drug or toxin exposure, once the patients stop taking the drug or exposing themselves to toxins, there will be no further decay and it can be reversed, up to some stage."
"This is not especially common in the UAE, but you can still find it here." He stressed that the quality of life will be "very much effected after PD," and although the disease does not cause death, a large number of patients have died or suffered brain damage after falling over, due to the PD.
"Once the patient takes the medication but decides to stop or reduces, it can lead to further problems."
He said that in certain cases PD sufferers will require surgery, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is used to treat the debilitating symptoms of PD, including stiffness, abnormality in walking, tremor, slowed movement and rigidity.