Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.

Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications might significantly improve your symptoms. Occasionally, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms. In most people, symptoms appear at the age of 60 years or over. However, in 5–10 % of cases, they appear earlier. When Parkinson’s disease develops before the age of 50 years, this is called “early-onset” Parkinson’s disease.

Signs of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms can be different for everyone. Early signs may be mild and go unnoticed. Symptoms often begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.

Movement: There may be a tremor in the hands. Your steps may become shorter when you walk. It may be difficult to get out of a chair.

Coordination: A reduced sense of coordination and balance can cause people to drop items they are holding. They may be more likely to fall.

Gait: The person’s posture may change so that they lean forward slightly as if they were hurrying. They may also develop a shuffling gait.

Facial expression: This can become fixed, due to changes in the nerves that control facial muscles.

Voice: There may be a tremor in the voice, or the person may speak more softly than before.

Handwriting: This may become more cramped and smaller. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual inflexions

Sense of smell: A loss of sense of smell can be an early sign. You may not able to sense the smell properly

Sleep problems: These are a feature of Parkinson’s, and they may be an early sign. Restless legs may contribute to this.
Unsteady walk and balance and coordination problems: You may develop a forward lean that makes you more likely to fall when bumped. You may take short shuffling steps, have difficulty starting to walk and difficulty stopping and not swing your arms naturally as you walk. You may feel like your feet are stuck to the floor when trying to take a step.

Causes of Parkinson’s Disease

Scientists are not sure what causes Parkinson’s disease. It happens when nerve cells die in the brain.No one knows exactly why a person gets Parkinson’s. It’s probably due to a mix of things, including genes and exposure to certain toxins. There’s usually no way to predict who will get it or why. It’s rare for Parkinson’s to run in families. Most of the time, it seems to happen randomly.

Your genes: Researchers have identified specific genetic mutations that can cause Parkinson’s disease. But these are uncommon except in rare cases with many family members affected by Parkinson’s disease.

Low dopamine levels: Scientists have linked low or falling levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, with Parkinson’s disease. This happens when cells that produce dopamine die in the brain. Low dopamine levels can make it harder for people to control their movements.

Environmental triggers: Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson’s disease, but the risk is relatively small.

Lewy bodies: A person with Parkinson’s disease may have clumps of protein in their brain known as Lewy bodies. Lewy body dementia is a different condition, but it has links with Parkinson’s disease.

Risk factors in Parkinson’s disease

Age: Young adults rarely experience Parkinson’s disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older

Gender: Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women.

Genetics: Individuals with a parent or sibling who is affected have approximately two times the chance of developing Parkinson’s.

Exposure to toxins: Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may slightly increase your risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Treatment

Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, but medications can help control your symptoms, often dramatically. In some later cases, surgery may be advised. There are many medications available to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, although none yet that reverse the effects of the disease. It is common for people with PD to take a variety of these medications all at different doses and at different times of day to manage symptoms.

Medications may help you manage problems with walking, movement and tremor. These medications increase or substitute for dopamine. People with Parkinson’s disease have low brain dopamine concentrations. However, dopamine can’t be given directly, as it can’t enter your brain. You may have significant improvement in your symptoms after beginning Parkinson’s disease treatment. Over time, however, the benefits of drugs frequently diminish or become less consistent. You can usually still control your symptoms fairly well. Enormous progress has been made in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). As a result of advances in experimental therapeutics, many promising therapies for PD are emerging.

Conclusion

The cause of Parkinson’s essentially remains unknown. However, theories involving oxidative damage, environmental toxins, genetic factors and accelerated ageing have been discussed as potential causes for the disease. The majority of Parkinson’s patients are treated with medications to relieve the symptoms of the disease. It is very important to work closely with the doctor to devise an individualized treatment plan. At Medysis Hospitals, we have an expert team of doctors who knows how to treat Parkinson’s disease without much side effects. Get in touch with us to know more. Stay healthy!

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