Parkinsons Disease Assignment Writers
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is one of the disorders of the brain. It is usually characterized by shaking, difficulty with walking, balance, coordination, and stiffness. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease start slowly but worsen with time.
With time, people with Parkinson’s disease have difficulty talking and walking. Additionally, they may experience depression, sleep problems, fatigue, behavioral and mental changes, and memory difficulty.
Parkinson’s disease affects more men than women although anyone can have it. Old age is a key risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. The early onset of Parkinson’s disease starts at the age of 50 years. However, a great number of people who develop this disease are usually above 60 years of age.
Early-onset Parkinson’s disease is not hereditary since they are not connected to any particular set of genes or gene mutations. Parkinson’s disease can be defined as a disease of the nervous system that interferes with a person’s ability to control their movement.
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Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease occurs as a result of damage of nerve cells in the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia are the part of the brain responsible for controlling body movement. These cells may get damaged or die.
Usually, nerve cells in the basal ganglia also known as neurons produce dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical. Death or damage of neurons results in decreased production of dopamine. This in return causes difficulties in movements that result in Parkinson’s disease. Until today, it is not known what causes the death of neurons.
When a person has Parkinson’s disease, they lose important nerve endings that produce norepinephrine. Norepinephrine acts as the chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system that controls blood pressure and heart rate.
Loss of norepinephrine is responsible for irregular blood pressure, fatigue, sudden decrease in blood pressure when a person stands and reduced movement of food in the digestive system all of which are associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Brains of people with Parkinson’s disease contain Lewy bodies. Scientists are still trying to uncover both the normal and abnormal functions of the alpha-synuclein and how it is connected to gene mutations that may cause Parkinson’s disease.
A few cases of Parkinson’s disease are hereditary but very few can be linked to specific gene mutations. Parkinson’s disease does not run in families but instead occurs randomly. It is believed that Parkinson’s disease is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from one person to another. The rate at which symptoms go away also varies from one person to another. Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
- Tremor – a person’s legs and arms may begin shaking. The feet and jaws too can shake. In beginning, only one limb or one side of the body is affected. As it progresses, shaking may become more widespread. Stress could worsen the shaking. Shaking disappears when a person starts to walk or goes to sleep.
- Stiff limbs/ rigid muscles – muscles may become rigid meaning they are unable to relax. Uncontrolled tensing of muscles that cause muscles to become rigid could result in an inability to move freely. A person’s movement may become limited and is usually accompanied by pain.
- Slowed movement – movement may be slowed due to slowed transmission of instructions from the brain to the appropriate parts of the body. This symptom of Parkinson’s disease may deteriorate and cause one to be disabled. A person may have difficulties bathing, getting dressed, and standing up from a chair.
- Stooped posture – a person may develop a stooped /hunched-over posture.
- Muscle twisting, cramps, and spams – a person with Parkinson’s disease may experience painful cramping in the feet or clenched and curled toes. This condition is called dystonia. It can also occur in any other part of the body.
- Unsteady walk and balance and coordination difficulties – a person may tend to lean forward making it easier for them to fall if bumped. A person may experience difficulty when they start to walk or need to stop walking. Additionally, they will have problems swinging their arms naturally as they walk.
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
- Depression and anxiety
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Reduced facial expressions – a person may be unable to blink or smile as the disease progresses.
- Speech/vocal changes – a person’s speech may become fast, soft in tone, or become slurred. A person’s voice may remain the same.
- Loss of smell
- Low blood pressure
- Lack of interest, pain, fatigue, vision, and weight changes
- Kin problems such as dandruff
- Urinary problems
- Memory problems
- Thinking difficulties
- Changes in handwriting
- Drooling, difficulty in chewing and swallowing
- Sleeping disturbances and restless leg syndrome.
Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from one person to another in terms of intensity and duration. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all. Some may experience symptoms different from others.
Some people may experience intense symptoms while others experience mild symptoms. The rate at which symptoms worsen varies from person to person. Parkinson’s disease progresses from early-stage to mid-late stage and eventually to an advanced stage.
Stages of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Early-stage – at this stage, symptoms are usually mild and occur gradually. Symptoms do not affect a person’s daily activities at this stage. Early symptoms may be difficult to detect as they can easily be mistaken for the usual signs of old age.
A person may experience uneasiness and fatigue with difficulty and tremor when standing up. These subtle signs may be noticed by family members. Additionally, they may notice a change in your handwriting, difficulty getting out of a chair, body stiffness, and lack of facial expressions.
- Mild stage – at this stage symptoms may begin to worsen. A person may experience difficult movement, tremors, and muscle stiffness on both sides of the body. Balancing becomes a problem with frequent falling. A person at this stage may be fully independent although they may have difficulty performing normal activities such as dressing and bathing. It may take longer to complete such activities.
- Mild-late stage – at this stage, it becomes even more difficult to stand and walk. A person may need the help of a walker. They also may need help since they are no longer self-sufficient.
- Advanced stage – at this stage a person may need a wheelchair to help them move around. If not, a person may remain bedridden. Full-time nursing care is needed for people at the advanced stage.
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease
There are several disorders with the same symptoms as Parkinson’s disease. People who experience symptoms of Parkinson’s disease caused by a different disorder are said to have Parkinsonism.
It is common for other disorders to be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. However, doctors can differentiate between Parkinson’s disease and other disorders by carrying out certain medical tests and observing a person’s response to drug treatment.
There are many different diseases with similar symptoms to those of Parkinson’s disease but require different treatment. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between them by making an accurate diagnosis quickly.
Currently, there are no lab or blood tests that can be done to diagnose cases of Parkinson’s disease that are not hereditary. Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease mainly depends on the medical history of a person.
Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, surgical treatment, medicines, and therapies can be used to relieve a person of the symptoms of the disease. Common medications for Parkinson’s disease include;
- Drugs that help control nonmotor symptoms
- Drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain
- Drugs that affect other brain chemicals in the body
Levodopa is the main therapy for Parkinson’s disease. It is also known as L-dope. Nerve cells help L-dopa to make dopamine that is used to increase the supply of oxygenated blood to the brain.
Other medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease are :
- Anticholinergic drugs that reduce muscle rigidity and tremors
- COMT inhibitors to help break down dopamine
- Dopamine agonists to mimic the role of dopamine in the brain
- MAO-B inhibitors.
- Amantadine to reduce involuntary movements.
Deep brain stimulation – deep brain stimulation is used in people who do not respond well to medications. Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure. This surgery implants electrodes into the brain and connects them to a small electrical device that is usually implanted in the chest.
The electrodes together with the device implanted in the chest stimulate the brain to help it stop symptoms related to movement such as muscle rigidity, tremor, and slowed movements.
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the brain that comes in 3 stages. The exact cause of the disease is not known although there are various treatments given to help people with the disease live a normal life.
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