How Dangerous Is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy & Is It Contagious?

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a progressive disorder that worsen over years and eventually results in life-threatening conditions.1

Several complications develop over time and the average life expectancy in people suffering from PSP typically varies between 5-7 years.2

PSP is not contagious and doesn’t run in families who had the previous history of the condition.3,4

Progressive supranuclear palsy is an uncommon brain syndrome affecting the neuron cells that control the movement of the eye muscles. This leads to serious impairment in maintaining balance and there are severe changes in the way you walk.

Progressive supranuclear palsy is typically noticed in middle-aged or elderly people. The signs and symptoms of the disease vary from an individual to individual and the problems may include behavioral changes, slurred speech, vision problem and swallowing difficulties

How Dangerous Is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

There is no cure nor treatment for PSP. Progressive supranuclear palsy is a progressive disorder that worsen over years and eventually results in life-threatening conditions. The condition is not fatal on its own however it increases the risk of developing pneumonia.

Pneumonia Can Be Life-Threatening: Pneumonia is an infection that inflames one or both the lungs making it hard to breathe and results in permanent lung damage. The infection can be from mild to severe or life-threatening resulting in death.

Swallowing Problems Lead To Choking And Result In Death: Swallowing difficulties is one of the hallmark symptoms of PSP that often leads to choking that requires serious medical emergencies. Unless first aid is applied correctly, you will not be able to save the person’s life.1

Poor Balance Resulting In Frequent Falls: People with Progressive supranuclear palsy experience balance problems and often encounter tripping and slipping. Frequent falls can cause serious injuries such as broken bones or head injury. These injuries can prevent individuals from performing their normal routines and living on their own. They either need assistance through someone or supporting aid such as cane or walking stick for their movements.

Several complications develop over time and the average life expectancy in people suffering from Progressive supranuclear palsy typically varies between 5-7 years. These problems include

  • Sensitivity towards light
  • Speech problems
  • Shaking or tremor while writing
  • Cognitive thinking problems’
  • Impulsive behavior such as uncontrollable laughing or crying with no reason
  • Depression and anxiety2

Is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Contagious?

Progressive supranuclear palsy is not contagious and doesn’t run in families who had the previous history of the condition. Many people have unnecessary concerns that progressive supranuclear palsy can be transmitted from one person to another person under genetic or environmental factors. However, they are certainly not contagious under any circumstances.

There is no known cause for this disorder but according to studies, it can be caused due to the mutation of abnormal tau proteins. When there is a buildup of tau proteins in the brain cells, it can result in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis impairing the healthy protein along the way. This eventually affects the movement, thinking, and behavior.

In some instances, Progressive supranuclear palsy patients lead people to presume that they have suffered from mental problems particularly apathy, impulsivity, and irritability. They lose interest in pleasurable activities and keep them isolated.

Genetic components have not been recognized in most individuals; there is also no proven theories to demonstrate it is contagious. Several hypotheses are in speculation and assumed to cause PSP.3,4

References:

  1. “Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/progressive-supranuclear-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20355659.
  2. “Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/progressive-supranuclear-palsy-fact-sheet.
  3. M, Polymenidou, and Irwin DJ. “In Case You Wondered: Neurodegenerative Diseases Are Not Contagious.” ALZFORUM, www.alzforum.org/news/research-news/case-you-wondered-neurodegenerative-diseases-are-not-contagious.
  4. Sugg, Diana K. “Tortured Journeys Lead to Nowhere with Rare Disease PSP Hard to Diagnose, Has No Cure; Some Die Never Knowing Cause.” Baltimoresun.com, 23 Oct. 2018, www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1997-12-15-1997349081-story.html.

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