Parkinson’s disease is named after a doctor named James Parkinson, who wrote about it in 1817. This disease messes with the way our bodies move because it affects our nervous system. It starts slowly and makes things like our hands shake a bit or our body stiffen up. It’s common in older people, but younger adults can get it too.Although there’s no cure, there are medicines to help with the symptoms. It’s not usually deadly by itself, but it can lead to problems like infections.
In Parkinson’s disease, there are cells in your brain that slowly break down and die. These cells are important because they make a chemical called dopamine. When there’s not enough dopamine in your brain, it can make your brain act strangely, causing unusual movements and other problems. We’re not exactly sure why this happens, but sometimes it seems to run in families. A small number of people with Parkinson’s disease have changes in their genes that might make them more likely to get it.There are also things in the environment that might trigger Parkinson’s disease, like being exposed to certain chemicals found in pesticides and herbicides. Living in rural areas where these chemicals are used more often might increase the risk. There’s a tiny thing in the brain called Lewy bodies, that’s often found in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease mostly affects how a person moves and stands. But there are also other symptoms that are not related to movement. These can vary from person to person. The most common sign of Parkinson’s is trembling, usually in the hands and fingers, especially when they’re at rest. This can include a specific motion where the thumb and fingers repeatedly touch, called “pill-rolling.”
As the disease continues, muscles in the body can become stiff and inflexible, making it hard to move comfortably. This can lead to pain and frustration when simple tasks become challenging. Moving around can become slower, which is called “bradykinesia.” Patients might drag their feet while walking and take longer to get from one place to another. Difficulty in moving also leads to posture problems, like a stooped posture, and balance issues. This can affect coordination and even simple actions like smiling or blinking. Writing might become smaller and harder to read due to muscle stiffness in the hands and arms. Speech can change too, with softer, faster, or slurred speech, and less emotional expression.
1.Swallowing and Drooling: Parkinson’s can make it hard to swallow, and sometimes saliva can go down the wrong way, increasing the risk of choking or drooling.
2. Digestive and Urinary Issues: The disease can affect the muscles in our digestive and urinary systems, leading to problems like constipation and difficulty urinating.
3. Fatigue and Pain: Parkinson’s makes moving harder, so patients often tire quickly and can feel pain when they try to move.
4. Blood Pressure: Blood pressure can drop suddenly when a person with Parkinson’s stands up, causing dizziness and potential falls. This is called orthostatic hypotension.
5. Thinking and Sleep Problems: Parkinson’s can impact thinking and disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties with memory and frequent waking during the night.
6. Sexual Changes: Some patients may experience a decrease in sexual desire or changes in their sexual activity and performance.
7. Sensory and Emotional Changes: A person with Parkinson’s might have trouble with their sense of smell and can also experience emotional changes, including depression, anxiety, fearfulness, or a lack of motivation.
8. Complications Leading to Death: Pneumonia and sepsis are serious complications that can be life-threatening. Pneumonia can develop when the patient becomes less mobile, increasing the risk of respiratory infections. If not treated, the infection can spread through the blood and cause sepsis, which can lead to organ failure and death.
Medical Advice From Your Doctor:
1. When to See the Doctor: If you experience any symptoms or issues related to Parkinson’s, it’s time to see a doctor. Start with your family doctor, but they may refer you to a neurologist who specializes in these conditions.
2. Prepare for the Appointment: To make the most of your doctor’s visit, plan ahead. Write down your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to Parkinson’s. Include any recent changes in your life and a list of all medications you’re taking.
3. Bring a Companion: It’s helpful to have a friend or family member come along. They can provide additional information and support during the appointment.
4. Questions to Ask: Be ready to ask questions. You might want to know why you’re experiencing these symptoms and if there could be other reasons. Ask about the tests needed for a diagnosis and if they require special preparations. Understand the nature of the disease and how it progresses over time. Inquire about long-term care options and potential treatments, including their side effects.
5. Managing Other Health Conditions: If you have other health issues, ask how to manage them alongside Parkinson’s disease.
6. Medications: If cost is a concern, inquire about generic versions of prescribed medications.
7. Activity Restrictions: Ask if there are any activity restrictions due to Parkinson’s.
8. Support and Resources: Find out if there are support groups or online resources that can help you cope with Parkinson’s disease.
9. Clarify Anything You Don’t Understand: Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if there’s anything you don’t understand.
10. Share Important Information: Prepare to share all the necessary information with your doctor. This will help them better understand your condition and save time during the appointment.
There isn’t a single medical test that can say for sure if someone has Parkinson’s disease. Even advanced brain scans and blood tests often don’t show clear signs of it. The best way to find out if someone has Parkinson’s is to see a specialist called a neurologist. The neurologist will start by examining the person and asking about their medical history. They’ll also make sure it’s not some other condition causing the symptoms.
A key part of the diagnosis is when the neurologist prescribes a medication called carbidopa-levodopa. They’ll have the person take it for a few days to a week. This medication needs some time to build up in the body before it works properly. After this period, the neurologist checks if the person’s symptoms have improved with this medication. If they have, it’s a strong indication that it’s Parkinson’s disease. But sometimes, it might take a bit longer to be sure, so the neurologist will want to see the person regularly to monitor how things are going.
In simple terms, diagnosing Parkinson’s disease isn’t straightforward, and it often takes a specialist and some time to figure it out. They use a specific medication to see if it helps improve the symptoms as a key part of the diagnosis.
Promising Results in Parkinson’s Disease Cell Therapy Trial:
Scientists have made promising progress in a trial for a cell therapy to treat Parkinson’s disease. This experimental treatment, called Bemdaneprocel therapy, involved injecting cells grown from human embryonic stem cells into the brains of 12 patients. While it’s still in early stages, the treatment was found to be safe, and patients showed some improvements in their symptoms. This is significant because there has been a long search for effective Parkinson’s treatments. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness, as the placebo effect can influence results in Parkinson’s trials. Despite the small size of the trial, it’s seen as an exciting step forward in the quest to help people with Parkinson’s disease.
If someone with Parkinson’s disease finds that their medications aren’t working as well and their symptoms are becoming unpredictable, their neurologist might suggest a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation or DBS. Before going ahead with DBS, it’s crucial for the patient to have a thorough discussion with both the neurologist and the neurosurgeon. They need to provide all the details about the procedure so the patient can understand what it involves. This helps the patient weigh the pros and cons and consider other treatment options.
The patient should also ask if there are alternative treatments available. If the patient’s ability to make decisions is affected by Parkinson’s, a family member or someone named in their advanced directive can make the decision for them. In DBS, the surgeon places special electrodes into a specific part of the patient’s brain. These electrodes are connected to a device implanted in the patient’s chest. This device sends tiny electrical signals into the brain to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms. The doctor can adjust the strength and frequency of these signals to better control the symptoms.
DBS has several benefits. It helps control symptoms, stabilizes the effects of medications, and can manage medication side effects. It’s often used for advanced Parkinson’s when medication isn’t as effective. It can significantly reduce symptoms like tremors, slow movements, stiffness, and involuntary movements.
However, there are risks involved with brain surgery, including the possibility of bleeding, stroke, or infection. Sometimes, patients may experience other issues, but these can often be fixed by adjusting the electrical impulses. One limitation is that DBS doesn’t work well for symptoms that don’t respond to levodopa, a common Parkinson’s medication.
Lifestyle Changes And Other Remedies:
Once the neurologist confirms that a patient has Parkinson’s disease, it’s important for the patient and their family to work closely with the doctor to decide on the best treatment. Alongside medical and surgical options, the neurologist will likely suggest some lifestyle changes to help manage Parkinson’s.Eating nutrition food matters. That means balanced meals with lots of fiber and drinking plenty of fluids to avoid constipation. Some neurologists may recommend foods rich in Omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids like fish and poultry, although the benefits are not yet fully proven. Regular physical activity can improve flexibility, balance, and strength. Patients might work with a physical therapist who can create an exercise program tailored to their needs, which could include activities like swimming, dancing, or walking.
Since Parkinson’s can affect balance and walking, it’s crucial to avoid sudden movements. Patients should aim to land their heels first when walking for stability, look straight ahead to prevent falls, and use techniques like making U-turns instead of pivoting at corners. It’s also best not to walk backward. Daily activities like eating, bathing, using the restroom, and getting dressed can become challenging. In these cases, working with an occupational therapist can be very helpful. They can provide strategies and tools to make these daily tasks easier to manage.
Body therapies like massage can relax muscles and decrease rigidity. Acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific points to relieve pain. The Alexander technique teaches patients better posture and movement.
Mind-related therapies include Tai chi, which improves balance and strength, and yoga, which helps with flexibility. Meditation can improve concentration and reduce stress.
Recreational therapy involves relaxing music and art, which can improve movement and expression. Pet therapy with dogs or cats can increase flexibility and emotional well-being by reducing stress and anxiety.
Dealing with Parkinson’s disease is difficult, not just for the patient but also for their family and friends. It’s common for those with Parkinson’s to feel frustrated, angry, and sad. They need understanding and support. Patients can talk to a doctor, healthcare professional, or social worker to find the right support group. Some well-known support groups for Parkinson’s patients include the National Parkinson Foundation and the American Parkinson Disease Association. There are also online groups like Daily Strength’s PD Support Group, DBSsurgery Yahoo! Group, NPF’s Open Forum, NPF’s Young Onset Forum, and PatientsLikeMe Forum.
Parkinson’s disease is a complex condition that affects the nervous system and can have a significant impact on a person’s life. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are various treatments available, including medications, surgical procedures like deep brain stimulation, and alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga. Living with Parkinson’s can be challenging, not only for the patient but also for their loved ones. It’s important for patients to seek support from family and friends and consider joining support groups or online communities for additional help and understanding. While there is no easy path in dealing with Parkinson’s disease, with the right care, support, and resources, individuals and their families can navigate this journey with resilience and hope.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.