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Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects the nervous system, making it difficult to move freely. It is a progressive disease that slows your movement completely. The disease mostly affects the part of the brain that controls speech and movement. So, you can experience speech problems and movement issues with the disease. Unfortunately, you have no cure for the problem. With early diagnosis and medical support, you can reduce the effects of its symptoms. It is a common disease today. Every one in five hundred people can suffer from the problem. Scroll ahead to understand more about the issue.
What Is Parkinson’s disease?
It is a progressive neurological disorder that starts gradually with a tremor in the hand. But, it can escalate to the slowing of movement or stiffness in the arms. The problem may have little or no signs at the beginning. As it progresses, the facial expressions, movement, and speech become affected.
Symptoms Of Parkinson’s disease
The signs and symptoms of the disease differ from one person to another. In most cases, you may not notice mild symptoms. The signs of the disease start from one side of the body. It can worsen with time and starts affecting the other side too. Therefore, the common signs of the problem include:
Tremor is the first indication of something wrong in the body. You may experience shaking in the limb. It may start mostly on your hands or fingers. You can experience it even while resting.
You may experience stiff muscles. It can occur anywhere in the body and limit your motion. So, you may feel pain.
The term means slowed movement. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, your movement slows down. It makes even completing the simple tasks difficult. You may walk with shorter steps and it consumes your time. So, you may literally drag your feet trying to walk.
Impaired Balance And Posture
The disease can lead to a stooped posture. You may also experience balance problems due to the issue.
Speech changes is another sign that indicates the issue. You can experience slurring or hesitation while you talk. You can also speak softly or quickly. So, your speech becomes monotonous in nature. It becomes devoid of all the infections.
You may find it difficult to write. The writing can appear small.
Loss Of Automatic Movements
Unconscious movements become difficult. So, you may experience decreased ability to smile, blink or even swing the arms while walking.
Stages Of Parkinson’s disease
Everyone may not get affected by the disease in a similar manner. Parkinson’s disease has different stages. So, the different stages of the problem are:
It is the mildest form of the disease. You may barely notice the symptoms. So, it does not interfere with your life in any manner.
The progression from stage 1 to stage 2 happens gradually. So, it can take several months or even years to reach the stage. Once a person reaches the moderate stage, the following signs may appear:
- Changes in facial expressions
- Muscle Stiffness
It is the middle stage of the disease. So, you may experience a turning point in the signs. You can expect new symptoms to appear. It becomes more prominent and noticeable. Therefore, the signs can interfere with your life and day-to-day activities. The symptoms appearing at the stage are:
- Slower movements
- Balance problems
- Risk of falling
The progression from stage 3 to stage 4 can result in worsening of symptoms. So, you may experience problems like:
- Trouble walking
- Use of the assistive device for standing
- Slow reactions
- Reduction of movements
- Living alone becomes dangerous
It is the most advanced stage. Therefore, the affected people may require round-the-clock care. It becomes difficult to move or stand. So, the affected patients observe the following:
- Experience confusions, hallucinations or delusions
- Use a wheelchair to move from one place to another
Causes Of Parkinson’s disease
The main cause of the problem is the degeneration of the nerve cells known as neurons. The neurons may gradually break down and ultimately die. The loss of the neurons in the brain can trigger the symptoms explained above. It occurs due to the loss of a chemical messenger called dopamine. Therefore the decrease in dopamine results in abnormal brain activity. It results in the signs of Parkinson’s disease. You can never pinpoint one single factor that reduces the dopamine levels. Several factors can play a role. So, the main factor influencing the disease are:
The family genes can play a part in getting the problem. If you have a family member with the disease, your chances of getting it escalates. Researchers have identified the gene mutation triggering the issue. So, the gene variations can put you at risk of the problem.
Some environmental triggers can put your risk of developing a neurological disorder. So, exposure to toxic elements or other factors can result in abnormal brain function. But, the risk due to the environmental issues are comparatively low.
Risk Factors Of Parkinson’s disease
Not everyone can get affected by Parkinson’s disease. Only some people have increased the risk of experiencing the problem compared to others. Therefore, the major risk factors associated with the disease are:
Old people are more at risk of the problem compared to young people. Young adults have a low risk of getting affected by the neurological disorder. Therefore, the problem can affect people only in their middle age or higher. Most people affected by the issue develop it around 60 years or more.
It can affect you if someone in your immediate family suffers from the problem. So, the hereditary factor plays an important role in increasing your chances of the disease. If you have a close relative who suffers from the problem, then you have high chances of developing it.
From taking account of the number of people affected by the issue, more men get affected compared to women. So, men are more susceptible to develop the issue.
Exposure To Harmful Substances
Some harmful toxins can change brain function. So, your continuous exposure to harmful substances like pesticides and herbicides can put you at risk. It can affect you adversely gradually over time.
Complications Due To Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease brings along several other complications. It can derail your normal life and put you at risk. So, you may feel unable to complete the daily tasks. So, the complication with the progressing neurological problem are:
Parkinson’s disease comes along with cognitive problems. So, it can trigger issues like thinking difficulties and cognitive problems. In most cases, cognitive problems like dementia occur at the last stages of the disease. Therefore, medications cannot provide any relief.
Depression And Emotional Issues
People diagnosed with PD can face emotional upheaval. It can result in depression. So, getting treatment for the emotional problem can help handle the stress associated with the neurological disorder. It helps to handle the other challenges associated with the disease. The doctors can provide medication for other emotional changes like:
- Loss of motivation
Many people develop a problem with having food. The difficulties can increase as the disease progresses. So, patients affected by PD can suffer issues like:
- Trouble swallowing due to the accumulation of saliva. The excess saliva in the mouth will lead to drooling.
- Issues with eating as people experience trouble chewing the food. The last stage of Parkinson’s disease adversely affects the mouth muscles. It triggers chewing problems. So, it leads to malnutrition or choking.
People suffering from neurological degenerative disease find it difficult to sleep. Most of them wake up frequently at night. They fall asleep during the day or wake early in the morning. So, a sleeping disorder can affect everyday functions.
Another issue is the REM (Rapid Eye Movement). It is the sleeping disorder resulting in acting in the dreams. Therefore, affected patients need medications to overcome sleeping disorder.
PD may trigger bladder problems. So, it can result in loss of control of urination. Sometimes, the problem can make it difficult to urinate.
The neurological degeneration can result in the slow functioning digestive tract. It makes it difficult to digest the food properly. So, people can develop constipation.
Blood Pressure Problems
In most cases, affected patients can experience a drop in their blood pressure levels. The problem referred to as orthostatic hypotension can make you feel dizzy. So, the problem can make you feel lightheaded. The pressure drop commonly occurs when you stand suddenly.
Though the actual cause remains a mystery, people experience fatigue. So, Parkinson’s disease can make you tired. You feel drained of all the energy by the end of the day.
The neurological disorder can result in pain in different areas of the body. Sometimes the pain plagues you throughout the body. In some people, the pain may affect specific areas.
You may suffer from smell dysfunction as a result of PD. It can affect your smell sense. So, it becomes difficult to differentiate between odors. The problem can cause difficulty in identifying specific smells too.
In some of the cases, people affected by PD can notice a decrease in sexual performance. They may feel less desire for intimate relationships.
Diagnosis Of Parkinson’s disease
You do not have a single test that can conclusively detect PD. So, when you suspect the problem, you need to go to a trained neurologist. So, the doctor with experience can diagnose the disease with various techniques.
The doctor experienced in diagnosing the PD signs can evaluate your symptoms. Your medical history also gets assessed for proper diagnosis. So, the doctor performs the physical as well as a neurological examination to detect the problem.
DAT (Dopamine Transporter) Scan
Another scan can detect the problems in the brain. The SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography) can detect the problems with the brain tissue.
The doctor can order blood tests to eliminate other health problems with similar signs.
The different imaging tests can provide visuals of the brain. In most cases, the MRI, ultrasound of the brain, CT scans, and PET scans may not help with diagnosis. But, it can eliminate the other health problems triggering the signs.
In addition to the different diagnostic techniques, your doctor can give you medication. Parkinson’s disease medication can show its benefit when you take the appropriate dose. Therefore, the improvement in health due to the medication confirms the diagnosis. So, your neurologist precisely establishes the problem.
Many times, the doctor may not diagnose Parkinson’s disease with just one consultation. It may take time to diagnose it conclusively. So, you need to have regular follow-up appointments with the doctor. And, you need to consult the doctor with experience and training in movement disorders. It helps to evaluate the symptoms as well as condition to diagnose the condition.
Treatment Options For Parkinson’s disease
You have different options to treat the condition. But, you need to understand that the condition has no permanent cure. So, you can only control the symptoms and delay the progression of the disease with the treatment options. Your doctor can prescribe medications or surgery based on the severity of the condition. Therefore, the various treatment option available are:
Your doctor can help you overcome the different signs you experience by providing medication. So, the medications can address the different issues you face due to PD. The following medicine helps you combat the problems.
It is the medication given to enhance the dopamine levels in your brain. Commonly known as L-dopa, it is the most common medication for the condition. You suffer from Parkinson’s disease when your brain stops producing the dopamine. The chemical is responsible for sending vital signals to the brain. So, the medication can urge the body to increase the production of dopamine.
Unfortunately, levodopa stops working after some time. So, the doctor delays prescribing it as the effects wear off after a while. Once the medication effects wear off, you may experience movement problems. The problem referred to as motor fluctuation can affect your mobility. Therefore, you can experience the issue suddenly or gradually.
Levodopa can trigger some unwanted side effects like nausea. So, to curb the problem, the doctor suggests taking carbidopa along with levodopa. You have the option to take medicines that have a combination of both the drugs (Example: Sinemet).
To prevent motor fluctuations, you must take an add-on medicine. Safinamide is prescribed to prolong the effects of Parkinson’s medication. It can avoid the symptoms associated with the disease for a longer time. But, like any other medication, it has side-effects. The common problems are:
- Feeling sleepy
- Involuntary movements
- Unexpected Falls
- Uncontrolled movements
It is the type of medications that can mimic the action of dopamine in the brain. In most cases, the doctor prescribes it with L-dopa or you can take it alone. Therefore, the medication can help you overcome the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
The Catechol-O-Methyl Transferase inhibitors prolong the effects of levodopa. It prevents the breaking down of levodopa for an extended period of time. So, it successfully blocks the enzyme that tries to break the levodopa. It works similar to the carbidopa.
The Monoamine Oxidase B inhibitors can block the enzyme action that breaks down the dopamine. In most cases, your neurologists prescribe it alone during the early stages of the problem. But, you have to take it in combination with other drugs as the disease progresses to the next stage.
Prevention Of Parkinson’s disease
The actual cause of the disease remains a mystery. So, it is difficult to pinpoint a way to prevent the disease from affecting your life. But, you can take some steps to ensure the problem does not affect your life. Therefore, including the following steps in your life can reduce the risk of the disease.
Having an active lifestyle can prevent the degeneration of the neurons in your brain. Some researchers have concluded that including aerobic activities in your life can prevent the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, including some physical activities can enhance the dopamine levels in your brain. It will effectively reduce the risk of the degenerative neurological problem.
Caffeine can increase the risk of degeneration of the neuron. Some researches point towards the harmful effects of caffeine on the brain. Therefore, consuming cola, coffee or tea can increase your risk of getting the disease. People who drink beverages are at more risk compared to the others who do not drink it. Though conclusive evidence is not available to establish the claim, you can take the safer route. So, avoid consuming excess amounts of caffeine.
Consuming a good diet will all the nutrients and minerals will help you enhance brain health. You can also include green tea to reduce the risk of the disease. The antioxidant properties of green tea can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease may not cause death. But, the associated health problem can shorten the lifespan. In most cases, the affected person can face life-threatening issues like fall, infections, blocks or clots. So, the disease can reduce the quality and quantity of life. You can reduce the severity of the symptoms with early diagnosis. Therefore, never ignore the signs and seek prompt medical attention to alleviate the distress due to the problem.View Article Sources