Coronavirus for People with Parkinson’s
Sunday, 29th March 2020

What is Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are like the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new virus formed and spread from China to other countries now called coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, use the symptom checker on healthdirect.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19

If you are sick and think you have symptoms of COVID-19, seek medical attention. Ensure you call you GP prior to attending. If you want to talk to someone about your symptoms first, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice.

The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

COVID-19 and Parkinson’s

The Michael J. Fox Foundation spoke with Susan Bressman, MD, Mirken Family Professor of Neurology at Icahn School of Medicine and Director of the Bonnie and Tom Strauss Movement Disorder Center, Mount Sinai Health System.

(MJFF): Should people with Parkinson’s be more concerned about getting COVID-19 than other people?

SB:I think of COVID-19 as being like a really, really bad flu. We’re learning more about it — how it spreads, the odds of getting it, how we can treat it — but we still need more information.

Having Parkinson’s, by itself, may not put you at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 or, if you do get it, having a more significant illness. For example: If you are 50 years old, newly diagnosed and otherwise healthy, it’s hard to say more than “you should take standard precautions.” But if you are older and have advancing Parkinson’s that significantly affects your movement, or if you have other conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, you may need to take more precautions, such as not travelling or avoiding routine doctor visits. Because Parkinson’s is so individualized, it’s hard to make a blanket statement. If you aren’t sure which category you fall into, talk with your doctor. But here’s my takeaway: Be careful and don’t take risks you don’t have to take.

MJFF: Are there specific ways COVID-19 might affect someone with PD differently from someone without PD?

SB: We don’t yet know specifics on how the virus might affect a person with PD. But any infection — a urinary tract infection, pneumonia or the flu, for example — can temporarily worsen Parkinson’s symptoms. So someone with COVID-19 would probably see an increase in their usual symptoms — more difficulty moving or more “off” time, for example. And COVID-19 treatment focuses on managing symptoms, such as cough, fever and pain, because there is not yet a treatment that targets the virus itself. Always talk with your doctor and pharmacist before taking any medications, including over-the-counter medications. Some cough and cold medications should not be taken with certain Parkinson’s medications (MAO-B inhibitors, such as Azilect/rasagiline or Xadago/safinamide), so it’s always good to check.

Tips

  • Wash your hands. Wash them often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your Cough using the bend of your elbow
  • Carry hand sanitizer. When in public spaces use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean around you. Stay as healthy as possible. Use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces before touching. is door handles, shopping carts, gym equipment etc
  • Practice Social Distancing by keeping 1.5 metres from other people
  • Know the symptoms. Primary symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and/or shortness of breath.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Managing your mental health

Here are some tips to help you manage your mental health during these uncertain times.

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Remember that minimising your outings, keeping a physical distance and practising good hygiene is helping to stop the spread of the virus in the community
  • Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practise mindfulness, take a walk in the garden and try relaxation techniques when stressed.
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Read a good book, watch a comedy, play a fun board or video game, make something—whether it’s a new recipe, a craft, or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it takes you out of your worries.
  • Eat nutritious healthy foods
  • Try to maintain physical activity. There are many things you can do even without equipment, such as yoga and exercises that use your own bodyweight.
  • Establish routines as best possible
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by taking regular breaks, and establishing a dedicated workspace.

 

Information on the Virus is continually changing. To stay informed with the latest information in Australia download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join the WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

Visit  The Australia Health Department website

 

Webinar – Coronavirus

Our partners at The Michael J. Fox Foundation have bought together a panel of experts to discuss the Coronavirus Covid-19.

In this webinar they discuss:

    • What we know about COVID 19 and Parkinson’s
    • How social distancing may help prevent spread
    • How to manage challenges and isolation
    • Potential impact on research

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