What is Parkinson’s Disease ?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder. Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time.
The first signs are problems with movement. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue.
Both men and women can have Parkinson’s disease. However, the disease affects about 50 percent more men than women.
Although most people with Parkinson’s first develop the disease at about age 60, about 5 to 10 percent of people with Parkinson’s have “early-onset” disease, which begins before the age of 50.
What causes Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells (neurons) of Substantia Nigra (an area of the brain)become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical (neurotransmitter) that helps the cells of the brain communicate (transmits signals, “messages,” between areas in the brain). Dopamine made possible smooth and coordinated bodily muscle movements in our body. When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine.
Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brain’s commands for body movement.
The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinson’s disease.
People with Parkinson’s disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the body’s autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.
Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.
What are the Symptoms Of Parkinson’s disease?
Early signs of Parkinson’s disease may go unrecognized . Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person.
The most common symptoms include:
Tremor: Shaking begins in hands and arms. It can also occur in jaw or foot. In the early stages of the disease, usually only one side of body or one limb is affected. As the disease progresses, tremor may become more wide spread. It worsens with stress. Tremor often disappears during sleep and when arm or leg is being moved.
Slowness of movement (bradykinesia): This is the slowing down of movement and is caused by as brain’s slowness in transmitting the necessary instructions to the appropriate parts of the body. This symptom is unpredictable and can be quickly disabling. One moment patient may be moving easily, the next s/he may need help moving at all and finishing tasks such as getting dressed, bathing or getting out of a chair. One may even drag feet as s/he walks.
Rigid muscles/stiff limbs: Rigidity is the inability of muscles to relax normally. This rigidity is caused by uncontrolled tensing of muscles and results in one not being able to move about freely. someone may experience aches or pains in the affected muscles and range of motion may be limited.
Unsteady walk and balance and coordination problems: Parkinson’s patient may develop a forward lean that makes more likely to fall when bumped. One may take short shuffling steps, have difficulty starting to walk and difficulty stopping and not swing their arms naturally as they walk. They may feel like their feet are stuck to the floor when trying to take a step.
Muscle twisting, spasms or cramps (dystonia). One may experience a painful cramp in foot or curled and clenched toes. Dystonia can occur in other body parts.
Stooped posture. Parkinson’s patient have a “hunched over” posture.
Other symptoms include:
- Decreased facial expressions: You may not smile or blink as often as the disease worsens; your face lacks expression.
- Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged (monotone).
- Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Chewing and swallowing problems, drooling.
- Urinary problems.
- Mental “thinking” difficulties/memory problems.
- Skin problems, such as dandruff.
- Loss of smell.
- Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pain, lack of interest (apathy), fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
- Low blood pressure.
What are the different stages of Parkinson’s disease?
Each person with Parkinson’s disease experiences symptoms in in their own unique way. Not everyone experiences all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Not even experience symptoms in the same order as others.
Some people may have mild symptoms; others may have intense symptoms. How quickly symptoms worsen also varies from individual to individual and is difficult to impossible to predict at the outset.
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are usually mild and typically occur slowly and do not interfere with daily activities. Sometimes early symptoms are not easy to detect or you may think early symptoms are simply normal signs of aging.
Usually may have fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness.
There may be a slight tremor or have difficulty standing. Often, which is noticed by a family member or friend before you do. They may notice things like
- body stiffness or
- lack of normal movement (no arm swing when walking)
- slow or small handwriting,
- lack of expression in your face, or
- difficulty getting out of a chair.
The progression from Early stage to Mid stage can take months or even years. Each person’s experience will be different. Symptoms start getting worse.
- Tremor, muscle stiffness and movement problems may now affect both sides of the body.
- Balance problems and falls are becoming more common.
- May still be fully independent but daily tasks of everyday living, such as bathing and dressing, are becoming more difficult to do and take longer to complete.
Standing and walking are becoming more difficult and may require assistance with a walker.
May need full time help to continue to live at home.
In this stage one now require a wheelchair to get around or are bedridden. S/he may experience hallucinations or delusions. They now require full-time nursing care.
How to Diagnose Parkinson’s disease?
There’s no specific test for diagnosing Parkinson’s. Diagnosis is made based on health history, a physical and neurological exam, as well as a review of signs and symptoms. Imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI, may be used to rule out other conditions and support the doctor’s diagnosis.
How is the prognosis of Parkinson’s disease?
It may not be possible to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, but you can work to overcome the obstacles and complications to have a better quality of life for as long as possible.
Complications from Parkinson’s can greatly reduce quality of life and prognosis. For example, individuals with Parkinson’s can experience dangerous falls, as well as blood clots in the lungs and legs. These complications can be fatal.
Proper treatment improves prognosis, and it increases life expectancy.
Treatments for Parkinson’s disease
Treatment for Parkinson’s relies on a combination of:
- lifestyle changes- includes exercises ,diet.
Parkinson’s often causes problems with daily activities. But very simple exercises and stretches may help you move around and walk more safely.
To improve walking
- Walk carefully, try not to move too quickly.
- Let your heel hit the floor first.
- Maintain the posture and stand up straight. This will help to shuffle less.
To avoid falling
- Try to not carry things while walking.
- Try to avoid leaning and reaching.
- Do not walk backward.
- To turn around, make a U-turn.
When getting dressed
- Avoid rushing.
- Take plenty of time to get ready.
- Select clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
- Try using items with Velcro instead of buttons.
- Try wearing pants and skirts with elastic waist bands. These may be easier than buttons and zippers.
Uses Yoga to build muscle, increase mobility, and improve flexibility. People with Parkinson’s may notice yoga even helps manage tremors in some affected limbs.
For people diagnosed with Parkinson’s, diet can play an important role in daily life. While it will not treat or prevent progression, a healthy diet may have some significant impact. As Parkinson’s is the result of decreased dopamine levels in the brain. Maintaining diet may be able to increase levels of the hormone naturally with food. These foods include:
- Antioxidants: Foods high in these substances may help prevent oxidative stress and damage to the brain. Antioxidant-rich foods include nuts, berries, and nightshade vegetables.
- Fava beans : These lime green beans contain levodopa, which is used in some Parkinson’s medications.
- Omega-3s : These heart- and brain-healthy fats in salmon, oyster, flaxseed, and some beans may help protect y brain from damage.
In addition to eating more of these beneficial foods, one avoid dairy and saturated fat. These food groups may increase risk for Parkinson’s or speed up progression.
In Modern Medicine Levodopa(most commonly used drug), Dopamine agonists, Anticholinergics(to block the parasympathetic nervous system), COMT (Catechol O-methyltransferase) inhibitors, MAO-B(enzyme monoamine oxidase B) inhibitors. Along with these antidepressants also used as per need.
Whereas in Homoeopathy, treatments completely depends upon individual’s symptom totality, which varies person to person. But few has good effects like
- Duboisia Myoporoides
- Hyoscine-hydrobromate (non-crystallizable alkaloid of Hyoscyamus Niger),
Before taking any medicine one should consult the physician.
Prevention Of Parkinson’s Disease
It is not understood yet what causes Parkinson’s Disease. Researcher are also not sure why it progresses differently in each person. That’s why it’s not clear how to prevent the disease. Though recent study suggests lifestyle factors — like physical exercise and a diet rich in antioxidants — may have a protective effect.
It is a lifelong condition that can be managed with lifestyle changes and medical treatments. If you are experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s or if you have been diagnosed talk with doctor to find new ways to manage the condition.
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