Parkinson’s Disease: Everything You Need to Know About the Neurological Disorder
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system and causes difficulty moving. Its four primary symptoms are tremors, rigidity, postural instabilities, and slowness of movement. Parkinson’s disease is a brain degenerative disease that prevents brain neurons from producing dopamine. When dopamine levels in the brain fall, the first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition, but the rate of deterioration varies from person to person.
Typically, symptoms start mildly and get worse over time. During the course of the illness, people may experience difficulty walking and speaking. They can also go through mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, sadness, memory loss, and exhaustion.
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
There is no known etiology for Parkinson’s disease. It might be influenced by both hereditary and environmental factors. According to some scientists, viruses may also cause Parkinson’s disease.
The most visible signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear when nerve cells in the basal ganglia, a region of the brain that regulates movement, are injured or killed. Dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter in the brain, is routinely produced by these nerve cells, or neurons. Dopamine production is reduced as a result of neuron degeneration or death, resulting in movement issues associated with the disease. Scientists are still baffled as to what causes neurons to deteriorate.
Although there is no known cause, research has revealed certain populations who are more susceptible to the illness, including:
- Genes: Scientists have found the precise genetic alterations that can lead to Parkinson’s disease. However, they are improbable unless numerous family members have Parkinson’s disease. A relatively low risk of Parkinson’s disease exists for each of these genetic markers, although some gene changes do appear to raise the risk of the disorder.
- Environmental triggers: Although the risk seems to be very low, Parkinson’s disease might later occur if you are exposed to certain toxins or environmental variables.
- Head trauma/ Injury: Parkinson’s disease may be more prone to manifest in those who sustain head injuries.
- Lewy bodies are present: Microscopical indicators of Parkinson’s disease include clumps of particular chemicals within brain cells. Lewy bodies are what they are, and scientists think they offer a crucial insight to what causes Parkinson’s disease.
- Lewy body alpha-synuclein was discovered: Lewy bodies include a variety of chemicals, but scientists think that the naturally occurring protein known as alpha-synuclein plays a significant role. A clumped form of it can’t be broken down by cells in all Lewy bodies. There is a growing interest among Parkinson’s disease researchers in this area.
There is a wide range of symptoms and signs associated with Parkinson’s disease among different individuals. Early symptoms could be negligible and overlooked. Symptoms frequently begin on one side of the body and are typically severe there even after they begin to affect the limbs on both sides.
Parkinson’s symptoms and indicators include:
- Tremor: Generally, the hand or fingers are the first part of the body to shake rhythmically or feel a tremor. You could wiggle your thumb and forefinger. The term “pill-rolling tremor” describes this. Even when at rest, your hand could shake. It is possible that the shaking will decrease while working on a particular task.
- Sluggish motion (bradykinesia): Parkinson’s disease may cause movement to slow down over time, making routine actions challenging and time-consuming. Your steps sometimes get smaller as you walk. It could be challenging to get out of a chair. Walking can be a stumbling or dragging experience.
- Stiff muscles: You can have muscle tightness in any area of your body. Your range of motion may be restricted and made painful by the stiff muscles.
- Poor balance and posture: You may begin to slump. Parkinson’s disease may also impair your balance or cause you to trip.
- Reduction in automatic movement: It’s possible that you’ll be less able to make unconscious gestures like smiling, blinking, or swinging your arms when you walk.
- Speech changes: It may seem as if you speak in a monotone manner with no typical speech patterns. Your speech may lack the customary speech patterns and seem more monotonous.
- Writing changes: It could get challenging to write, and your writing might look cramped.
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
Some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be managed with medication, surgery, and other therapies despite the fact that there is no cure. The treatment of Parkinson’s disease can take a number of forms. Here are a few suggestions.
Medicine – To help address the signs of Parkinson’s disease, medications can:
- Increase the brain’s dopamine levels
- influencing more brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters, which transport information between brain cells
- help to reduce the symptoms of immobility
For the treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms, the doctor may recommend medications, such as:
- Dopamine agonists increase the brain’s dopamine production
- Enzyme inhibitors such as MAO-B inhibitors and COMT inhibitors can enhance the body’s dopamine levels by delaying the enzymes that break down dopamine in the brain.
- Amantadine to lessen uncontrollable movements
- Anticholinergic medications to lessen muscular rigidity and tremors
- Stimulation of the deep brain
For Parkinson’s disease patients who do not respond well to medication, the doctor may advise deep brain stimulation. Electrodes are surgically implanted into a specific region of the brain, and these electrodes are interconnected to a small electrical device placed inside the chest. The device and electrodes, which painlessly stimulate specific areas of the brain that regulate movement, may help with many of the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity.
Other treatments that could aid with Parkinson’s symptoms management include:
- Physical, occupational, and speech treatments that may be used to treat tremors, rigidity, and a loss in mental abilities as well as gait and voice abnormalities.
- A balanced diet to promote overall health
- Exercises to improve muscle mass and improve balance, flexibility, and coordination
- Massage treatment for tension reduction
- It is possible to develop flexibility and stretching through yoga and tai chi.
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A side effect of Parkinson’s disease is Parkinson’s dementia. It makes it more difficult for people to reason, think, and solve problems. In between 50 and 80 percent of Parkinson’s patients, dementia will manifest in some form.
Parkinson’s disease dementia signs and symptoms include:
- changes in energy level
- Slurred speech
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep disturbances
The brain’s chemical-receiving cells are destroyed by Parkinson’s disease. This can eventually result in significant modifications, symptoms, and problems.
Dementia caused by Parkinson’s disease is more likely to occur in some persons. Among the conditions, risk factors are:
- Severe Parkinson’s disease symptoms: If you have a severe motor impairment, such as tight muscles and difficulties walking, you may be more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease dementia.
- Sex: It is seen mostly in men as compared to women.
- Age: Getting older increases the risk.
- Cognitive impairment already present: Prior to receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis, memory and mood problems may have made you more susceptible to dementia.
Dementia caused by Parkinson’s disease is now untreatable. A doctor will instead concentrate on treating other problems. Sometimes drugs used to treat other forms of dementia can be beneficial.
Parkinson’s complications can have a negative impact on prognosis and quality of life. People with Parkinson’s disease, for example, may experience dangerous falls and develop blood clots in their legs and lungs. These side effects have the potential to be fatal. A proper treatment plan increases life expectancy and improves prognosis.
Parkinson’s disease cannot be slowed, but you can try to overcome the challenges and issues to live as comfortably as possible for as long as possible.
According to experts, there is no known cause of Parkinson’s disease. It is a chronic disease that can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Speak with your doctor if you have Parkinson’s symptoms or have been diagnosed with the disorder and are looking for alternative treatment options.