Broadcaster David Jensen describes hallucinations caused by Parkinson's disease

·TV Reporter, Yahoo Entertainment UK
·3 min read
David Jensen has shared how he hallucinates because of Parkinson's disease. (PA)
David Jensen has shared how he hallucinates because of Parkinson's disease. (PA)

Broadcaster David Jensen has opened up on the regular hallucinations he has as an effect of Parkinson's disease.

The Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter described seeing a pet dog “who doesn’t really exist” and “bumping into a strange figure on the stairs when I get up in the night”.

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He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease more than a decade ago and has joined forces with charity Parkinson's UK to encourage others in his position to join a clinical trial to see whether the drug ondansetron could alleviate hallucinations.

Sharing a letter with the PA news agency, the 72-year-old former Top Of The Pops presenter wrote: “I am part way through participating in a world-first clinical trial that has left me feeling empowered and hopeful for future treatments for Parkinson’s, and I want to encourage others with the condition, or Lewy body dementia, to sign up.

“I also want to call on those who have loved ones with these conditions to encourage them to consider taking part in this and other pioneering research."

He added: “Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011, I have discovered that it’s a condition that is full of surprises.

“Many people are aware of symptoms such as stiffness and tremors, but there are actually more than 40, including hallucinations.

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“Although hallucinations aren’t something that most people identify with the condition, around three quarters of people with Parkinson’s may experience them at some point.

“From going to pet a dog who doesn’t really exist while out walking to ‘bumping into’ a strange figure on the stairs when I get up in the night, hallucinations are very much a part of my life."

Portrait of British-based disc jockey & television broadcaster David Jensen, known as the time as Kid Jensen, as he poses at home, London, England, 1978. (Photo by George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
David Jensen in 1978. (Getty Images)

Jensen continued: “I count myself lucky that the mythical figures that appear before me are pretty friendly because hallucinations – whether as a direct symptom of Parkinson’s or as a side effect of one of the drugs people have to take to manage the condition – can be extremely distressing for both people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones.

“The medications that are currently available to treat visual hallucinations are far from ideal as they can worsen Parkinson’s symptoms or have serious side effects.”

Jensen encouraged others suffering Parkinson's hallucinations to join the trial funded by Parkinson's UK and led by University College London, with clinical trial sites around Britain.

It is trialling the use of Ondansetron, currently used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, for Parkinson's patients.

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