Parkinson’s Disease-Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis, Prevention

Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder that can lead to shaking, quivering and difficulty while walking, coordination and movement.

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Risk factors for Parkinson’s Disease

The disease develops usually after the age of 50. It is one of the common nervous system disorders that strike the elderly. It has also been to affect younger adults in some case. Both women and men are equally at risk of this disease. One of the risk factors of Parkinson ’s disease is genes. It has been found that the disease is hereditary and runs in families. When a younger person is affected, it is mostly due the disease originating through ancestry.

Causes of Parkinson’s Diseae

Dopamine, the brain chemical in nerve cells control our muscle movements and coordination. When Parkinson’s disease occurs, the nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine are gradually destroyed. So due to lack of dopamine, the nerve cells in that areas of the brain is not able to properly convey messages. This in turn, lead to loss of muscle coordination and function. With progressive years, the condition gets worse. One still does not know why these nerve cells in the brain become redundant or useless.

Parkinson’s Disease in Children

There have been cases where Parkinson’s Disease have affected children, but that is rare and is primarily because their nerves are not receptive to dopamine. Parkinson’s is rare in children.

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

The symptoms which are usually mild can become quite problematic. The disease affects either one or both sides of the body. Here are the Parkinson’s disease symptoms:

1. Mild symptoms at first: slight tremor or feeling that a part of the foot or leg is going stiff or spent.

2. Movement problems: Difficulty while initiating a movement, changing posture or continuing a specific movement like getting up from a chair or walking. Slowed movements, stooping gesture; loss of fine or small hand movements. For instance, the handwriting of the person may become smaller.

3. Involuntary movements like blinking slow or stop.

4. Balance is affected and walking tends to be impaired.

5. Lack of expression on the face.

6. Difficulty swallowing

7. Drooling

8. Muscle pain and ache

9. Difficulty while reading.

10. Difficulty while eating

11. Constipation

12. Confusion

13. Dementia

14. Depression

15. Memory Loss

16. Hallucinations

17. Fainting

18. Anxiety, tension and stress

19. Agitated Nature

20. Shaking and Tremors (covered in detail below)

21. Slowed, milder speech and slurry, monotone voice.

22. Injuries from falls

23. Pneumonia from aspirating or breathing in saliva

24. Delusional nature

25. Change in mood, alertness or behavior.

Shaking and Tremors in Parkinson’s disease

1. Tremors happen when the limbs are at a resting position, when the leg or arm is stretched out.

2. Tremors pass during movement.

3. With passing time and years, tremors or shaking can be seen in the lips, tongue, head and feet of the Parkinson’s Disease patient

4. The shaking is worse when the person is excited, tensed, tired or agitated.

5. Tends to roll finger and thumbs.

Diagnosis and Tests for Parkinson’s Disease

The doctor may be able to diagnose Parkinson’s disease depending on the above-mentioned symptoms and a physical examination. However, the symptoms can be tricky to evaluate, particularly in the aged. The obvious signs like change in muscle tone, shaking or tremors, waling problems and unsteady poise become more defined as the illness progresses. A physical examination conducted by the health care provider can find out:

Parkinson’s Tremors

Stiff movements

Change in Heart Rate

Muscle Atrophy

Difficulty starting and finishing voluntary movements

Inability of normal reflexes

Tests are done to rule out other mental and nerve disorders that have similar symptoms.

Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

The cure for Parkinson’s Disease does not exist. The only thing that can be done is to control the symptoms. The medication works to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. The effects of the medicine can pale at certain times during the day and the symptoms may come back, prompting your health care provider to change the dose, the type of medication, the way medication is taken and the time interval between every successive dose.

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As a patient or a family member or friend, you should work closely with the doctor and the therapists to abide by the changes in the treatment program. Do not alter or stop the medication without informing and getting advice from the doctor. Parkinson Disease medications that you may take without consulting the health care provider can lead to unhealthy side effects like diarrhea, hallucinations, vomiting, nausea and delirium. So always, monitor and follow up on the progress with our health care provider.

Many medications can cause severe side effects, including hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and delirium. Monitoring and follow-up by the health care provider is important. As aging increases, medications may not be as effective to deal with stooped posture, speech problems and stiff movements.

Here are the prescription drugs used to treat Parkinson’s Disease symptoms

Amantadine or anticholinergic medications — to reduce early or mild tremors

Selegiline (Eldepryl, Deprenyl), rasagiline (Azilect)

Pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), bromocriptine (Parlodel)

Levodopa (L-dopa), Sinemet, levodopa and carbidopa (Atamet)

Entacapone — to prevent the breakdown of levodopa

For people with severe Parkinson’s Disease, who do not respond to medication, surgery may be advised. These surgeries also do not cure the disease but can give a lot of relief with regards to the symptoms to some patients.

There is a procedure known as DBS or Deep Brain Stimulation wherein the surgeon implants electrical stimulators in particular areas of the brain to aid in movement. The other form of surgery can remove brain tissues that causes symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

Lifestyle changes to manage Parkinson’s Disease

1. Go for physical therapy, occupation and speech therapy.

2. Get good nutritive diet and practice healthy eating habits

3. Exercise under the guidance of a physical therapist who will tell you to adjust activity levels along with your levels of energy

4. Have adequate rest, avoid stress and have a lighter view of life

5. Banisters and railings may be places in the most often used areas of the home

Prevent Parkinson’s Disease

Prevention of Parkinson’s Disease, some experts say, is possible. A few theories state that free radicals result in nerve cell death, as evident from the increasing cases of Parkinson’s Disease found in metropolitan cities that are exposed to traffic, greenhouse gases, pollution and factories.

Free radicals are unstable and potentially damaging molecules generated by normal chemical reactions in the body.

Free radical damage can be controlled by a diet rich in antioxidants, chemicals that protect these cells from being damaged. So go for organic food that are rich in antioxidant properties, that contain:

1. Vitamin C

2. Vitamin E

3. Ginkgo biloba.

4. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH)

5. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

There is however, little research that states that any of the above products can prevent Parkinson ’s disease. However, they can reduce nerve cell damage.

Who Discovered Parkinson’s Disease?

It has been found in history that Parkinson’s Disease goes back to 5000 BC. The British doctor James Parkinson was the first to discover Parkinson’s Disease in 1817, he called it ‘the shaking palsy’. Due to his contribution and early work with regards to identifying the symptoms of the disease, Parkinson’s Disease has got his name.

Celebrities with Parkinson’s Disease

The famous people who have been affected with Parkinson’s Disease are:

Actor Michael J. Fox

Former boxer Muhammad Ali

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno

Billy Graham (Evangelist)

Former Alabama governor George Wallace.

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (died at the age of 92)

Brian Grant, American basketball player

Deborah Kerr, British actress (1921–2007)

Adolf Hitler, German dictator (1889–1945), was speculated to have Parkinson’s Disease

Conclusion and Recommendations

If left untreated, Parkinson’s Disease can deteriorate in such a manner that the person can become disabled. All the brain functions may be rendered invalid and may result in an early death for the patient. The good news is with prompt treatment, people can respond better and manage symptoms in a better manner. It also depends on person to person as to how he or she is able to benefit from a particular medication and till what period of time.

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