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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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.
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:
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
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:
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.
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.
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;
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 :
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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