Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that affects movement, most noticeably causing a person to tremor.According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Parkinson’s disease is the 14th leading cause of death in the US.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Progression of age makes a person prone to different illnesses, and Parkinson’s disease(PD) is one of them. This condition belongs to a group of diseases called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Dopamine is a vital chemical in the brain that allows smooth and co-ordinated function of the body’s muscles and movement. When 70% of dopamine-producing cells are damaged, Parkinson’s symptoms appear.
Here are some facts about Parkinson’s disease:
- It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.
- It is a chronic illness having a prevalence of about 0.3% in industrialized countries.
- It’s most common among the elderly.
Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The loweringof dopamine levels in the brain result in Parkinson’s disease. When most of the dopamine cells are damaged,motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear. Those would include:
- Tremor – The best-known symptom of PD. As per reports and different studies, 30% of individuals with the condition don’t show signs oftremor at disease onset, but develop the symptoms as the illness progresses. Tremoror shaking usually begins with a limb, particularly the hand or fingers. Another characteristic of Parkinson’s disease is a resting hand tremor.
- Slowed movement (Bradykinesia) – In Bradykinesia,the affected person finds it difficult to move due to which simple tasks become strenuous and time-consuming. Moreover, as the disease progresses, the patient may take shorter steps and find it hard to get out of a chair.
- Rigid muscles – Another Parkinson’s symptom is stiffness of muscles. Those afflicted may find their muscles rigid while attempting to turn in bed or get out of a chair. Rigidity can affect posture and facial expressions too, which can cause muscular ache.
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Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
While Parkinson’s diseaseis characterized by rigidity, tremor and postural instability,many people with this condition may experience other changes as well. These are non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Non-motor symptoms don’t involve movement, physical tasks, co-ordination or mobility. Some of these symptoms are noteven be recognized by the patient’s family members and friends, as they are almost invisible.Yet they are most troublesome for those affected. Ifa patient shows signs of these symptoms, take heed.
Some of the non-motor symptoms are as follows:
- Sleep disorder
- Choking and swallowing difficulties
- Speech impairment
- Dementia and cognitive impairment
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of sense of smell
- Bladder dysfunction
- Mood disorders
Treatment of Parkinson’s disease
A neurologist can diagnose whether a patient has PD based on signs of symptoms and medical history. He/she may recommend or start treatment, which can include medications. Levodopa in combination with Carbidopa, dopamine agonists like Pramipexole, Rotigotine and Ropinirole are used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms.
Your doctor may also suggest you make some lifestyle changes to deal with Parkinson’s symptoms. Those could be:
- Healthy eating : Your doctor may advise a well-balanced diet containing plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Moreover, you may be asked to eat high fiber foods and drink asufficient amount of fluids as they can help prevent constipation,a common problem for those with Parkinson’s disease.
- Daily activities: To deal with daily obstacles, including difficulty in dressing, eating, bathing and writing, you may be advised to fix an appointment with an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist will teach you techniques that make day-to-day life with the disease easier.
Parkinson’s disease isn’t a curable condition, but the symptoms can be controlled with proper medication and various home remedies. So if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, please be sure to see your doctor.