Hallucinations in Parkinson’s Disease Patients- What Are They?

Hallucinations are sensory experiences that do not exist nor relate to reality, and they include the five senses, sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. These delusions occur due to changes in the brain. People with dementia, delirium, Parkinson’s, and other aging-associated diseases may suffer from these delusions and hallucinations.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder. Most people think that it is a mobility disorder related to shaking, rigidity, and slow movements. However, it can also impact the mood and the ability to think clearly.
Coping with the movement-related symptoms may be hard, but the behavioral changes can be more devastating since they affect their lives completely.

In this article, we will tackle the definition and how to deal with hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease patients.

Who is at Risk of Hallucinations?

Around 20% of PD patients have some kinds of hallucinations and delusions. The risk factors include dementia, depression, sleep disorders, and vision impairment. Noting that people who have PD for over 20 years are more at risk of having behavior and memory impairments. Which eventually lead to Parkinson’s psychosis.

What are Hallucinations?

Hallucinations occur when the patient is awake, and they have 5 types:

  • Visual Hallucinations: Seeing things that are not there.
  • Auditory Hallucinations: Hearing sounds that do not exist.
  • Olfactory Hallucinations: Smelling things that do not exist.
  • Tactile Hallucinations: Feeling things that do not exist.
  • Gustatory Hallucinations: Tasting bitter or unusual tastes.

Visual hallucinations are the most common in people with PD, also knows as Shaking palsy. Wherein the patient may think that an animal is running in front of them, or a person sitting in front of them. At first, these hallucinations may be extremely irritating for the patient. However, they can be controlled and managed by sitting in well-lit areas, avoiding noise and chaos, socializing with the family, and getting the needed help.
It is worth noting that some patients lose their sight with time.

How to Deal with Hallucinations in PD Patients?

At first, the doctor must know all the physical and mobility-related disorders that the patient suffers from. And neurologists, internists, and psychiatrists can cooperate in order to determine the proper approach for the patient. There are safe hallucination and psychosis medications that can help reduce the symptoms; however, many psychosis medications are prohibited for people with PD.
Pimavanserin is one of the safe medicines for PD patients since it does not affect dopamine. Wherein hallucinations usually occur due to the increase of dopamine level in the brain. This dopamine increase is generally due to taking medications for controlling the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. And the supervising doctor has to reduce the dopamine doses in similar cases, or recommend taking dopamine from natural sources, such as Mucuna Pruriens, Moringa Oleifera, and others.

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