We've all heard of Parkinson's disease for different reasons, but do we really know what this disease entails? This condition begins with slight twitching of the arms and legs that the patient cannot control.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive nervous system disorder that affects the movement of your body. Parkinson's disease affects the tissue cells in the brain (neurons), causing them to stop producing dopamine, a chemical our bodies need to make normal movements.
Currently, Parkinson’s is the second most prevalent disease after Alzheimer’s.
This Neurodegenerative disease affects:
Half a million people a year
40% of patients are under 60 years of age
10% of patients are under 40 years of age
30% of the population is estimated to be undiagnosed
In this disease, some neurons gradually break or die. Many of the symptoms result from the loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels drop, brain activity is affected, causing the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
The causes of the disease are uncertain, but several factors can influence its development, such as those mentioned below:
Exposure to toxins
Lewy bodies presence, which contains a protein called alpha-synuclein. Researchers are studying this protein as a possible cause of the alterations in neurons
Symptoms of Parkinson's disease
Symptoms generally happen slowly over the years.
Initial stages of Parkinson's disease:
Your face may no show any expression or only a few
Your arms may not usually swing when you walk
Your speech may sound slurred
The progress of the symptoms can be different for everyone:
Impaired posture and balance
Loss of automatic movements
Loss of smell
Having some of these symptoms doesn't mean you have Parkinson's. Consult your Neurologist if you identify variations in yourself.
Parkinson's disease stages
Your arms don't usually swing when you walk
You can't make some facial expressions
Your legs seems heavy
Your extremities get numb
You only have symptoms on one side of your body
Changes in your speak
Stopping when you first start to walk
Balance and coordination troubles
You need assistance every day
Loss of smell
Low blood pressure
Age: People commonly develop the disease around age 60 or older
Gender: Parkinson is more common in Men than Women
Exposure to toxins: Such as herbicides and pesticides
The Neurologist will review medical history.
Review of signs and symptoms.
Physical and neurological examination
In some cases, the Neurologist may request a CT Scan called a dopamine transporter scan, which can help confirm the presence of Parkinson's disease.
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but medications can help control symptoms significantly. When the condition is at an advanced stage, the Neurologist may suggest surgical intervention.
Regular aerobic exercise can be helpful, as well as physical therapy. To treat speech problems, therapy with a pathologist can be beneficial.
Prescribed medications focus on regularizing dopamine levels in the brain. You cannot administer dopamine directly, but you can do chemicals that naturally convert to dopamine, such as levodopa.
Other medications, such as inhibitors, help prevent dopamine dissolution and other substances that help control symptoms such as tremors associated with the disease.
The Neurologist will take into account the disease's progression and the clinical history of each patient to determine the best treatment.
Living with Parkinson disease
Medicines prescribed by the Neurologist in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, including physical exercise, will make a difference in controlling symptoms and having a better quality of life.
Exercise will help increase muscle strength, flexibility, and reestablish balance, which is affected as the disease progresses. Receiving supportive therapy can help alleviate symptoms and complications resulting from the disease, such as pain, physical exhaustion, and depression, and frustration.
A combination of medications and alternative therapies and receiving support from family, friends, and a mental health professional, will make the difference to achieve a healthy life as possible.
When should I visit the Doctor?
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, see your Neurologist. He will be responsible for reviewing your medical history and symptoms to determine a proper diagnosis.
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