What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder that affects body movement by causing difficulty in walking, balance, and coordination. Both men and women can develop this disease, but men are more likely to be affected by this disease than women. About 5% of people above the age of 50 have an early onset of this disease although they may be inherited or might have been linked to gene mutations. It is a progressive neurological disorder that is chronic and gets worsen over time. It starts with a barely noticeable tremor and causes stiffness or slow movement of the body. It predominately affects the dopamine-producing neurons in the brain and sets the onset of this disease slowly over the years. Although this disease is incurable, Parkinson’s Disease medications might help in improving your overall condition.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
The progression of symptoms develops slowly over the years and is a bit different from person to person and the extent of the disease. Early signs may be minor and may get unnoticed sometimes.
People with Parkinson’s Disease may experience:
- Tremor: A small tremor or shaking starts in one of the limbs. It can be your hands or your fingers that may tremble even when at rest.
- Rigid Muscles: The patient may experience stiffness and pain in the muscles that will limit his or her movement. This may occur at any part of the body which will limit the range of motion in those areas.
- Change in Speech: Your rate of speech may increase or slow down with a moment of slurs while trying to speak. Your speech may sound monotonous as you speak either slowly or quickly.
- Slow movement: This disease will soon make simple tasks difficult due to a limited range of motion. Getting out of your chair or car seat may become difficult. You may even experience a decreased ability to perform simple tasks like swinging your arms while walking or while smiling or when blinking your eyes.
Parkinson’s Disease Risk Factors
The progression of this disease depends upon individuals. Some patients, prior to experiencing the symptoms have problems sleeping, decreased ability to smell, constipation, and restless legs to mention a few.
Some of the Risk Factors for this disease are:
- Age Factor: One of the biggest Risk Factors for developing this disease is the advancing age. The chances of getting this disease with young adults are less compared to older persons. The onset of this disease begins around the Middle ages to late ages around 60 years or older.
- Toxins and Chemical Exposure: Long term exposure to pesticides and herbicides may increase the chances of getting Parkinson’s Disease later in life.
- Sex: Men are more likely to get this disease than women.
- Hereditary Factor: If your family has a history of Parkinson’s disease, it is more likely that you might also develop this disease in the near future. Your chances increase slightly more if many family members or close relatives have this disease.
Parkinson’s Disease Causes
This dreaded disease has no biomarkers or specific screening tests that indicate that one might be suffering from it. The causes of this disease are most likely a blend of genetic and environmental causes linked to it.
There are basically Two Types of Parkinson’s Disease.
- One is the Autosomal Dominant where the child gets a mutated gene from either of their parents.
- The other one being the Autosomal Recessive in which the child gets a mutated gene from each of the parents.
However, according to research, most patients fall into the category of an idiopathic or unknown category.
In this disease, the nerve cells in patients get damaged which impair the movement of the body. They also tend to lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine. This results in the reduced function of automatic movements and promotes irregular blood pressure, fatigue, and decreased movement. Some cases might appear to be hereditary while most of the cases occur randomly and do not seem to run in the family genes. Most research opines that exposure to toxins and harmful chemicals along with hereditary causes might result in the development of this disease.
Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
There are various similar symptoms caused by other disorders that may resemble that of Parkinson’s Disease. However, certain Parkinson’s Disease Test along with specific drug treatments may help in distinguishing the rest from this disease. Therefore, a proper diagnosis is required to differentiate other disorders from Parkinson’s Disease.
Although there are no specific blood tests or medical tests to verify the onset of this disease, doctors rely on the medical history of the patients to diagnose non-hereditary cases of Parkinson’s disease. Neurological examination is also considered a very important diagnosis in identifying this disease.
Physical signs and symptoms are also an important diagnostic procedure to identify the onset of this disease.
Some imaging tests like MRI and CAT scan may help in identifying or ruling out several other disorders. A dopamine transporter scan (DAT) may also be used in certain cases. Although such tests do not confirm the disease, it may help the doctor in ruling out other conditions and establishing firm support for his diagnosis.
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
Parkinson’s Disease is incurable however there are several medicines, surgical procedures, and other therapies that may offer some relief to the patients. Here is a list of procedures that may be followed while treating this disease.
- Medicines: Medicines for Parkinson’s Disease may include dopamine inducing drugs or drugs that breakdown dopamine in the brain, or medicines that may affect the chemical composition of the brain, and others that help control non-motor and reduce involuntary movements.
- Deep Brain Stimulation: It involves surgical implants to stop movement-related issues.
- Other Therapies: This includes having a healthy and organic diet supported by regular exercises to build muscles and improve balance.
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How can Parkinson’s Disease be prevented?
Parkinson’s Disease prevention procedures are unclear as doctors are still not sure about its diverse progression with different people. Although there is no definite answer to Parkinson’s Disease cure at the moment, research works have indicated that lifestyle changes and intake of healthy foods along with regular exercises may help in preventing this disease.