Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition, characterized by a developing decline in limb and muscle movement which is caused by the depletion of cells responsible for producing dopamine in the brain.Even though there is a chance of early-onset Parkinson’s disease, this disorder usually occurs in patients who are above 60 years old.
Stiffness, lack of balance, slowness, tremors and having an abnormal gait pattern are among the main indications of Parkinson’s disease.Dementia, anxiety and depression aresome other notable symptoms.
Although Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition, getting the right treatment can help patients in living a long, healthy and constructive life.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
1. Early Symptoms
A gradual slowing down of motor function accompanied with lack of balance, rigidity in the muscles and frequent tremors are among the early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
2. Secondary Symptoms
Fatigue, drooling, stooping, cramping, sexual dysfunction, inability to swing the arms while walking, lack of coordination when making any movement, dystonia (neurological movement disorder), dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), having problems in speaking, inability to make facial gestures, microphagia (cramped handwriting) and loss of dexterity in making finger movements are among the secondary indications of Parkinson’s disease.
3. Other Signs and Symptoms
Lack of bladder control, difficulty in passing urine, constipation, depression, gradual decrease in sense of pain and smell, having difficulty in swallowing, paresthesia, tiredness and fatigue, dementia and sleeping issues are some of the other signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Risk Factors of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is caused due to the slow but continuous dying of a particular type of nerve cells produced in the brain. These nerve cells or neurons are responsible for the production of dopamine, a chemical messenger which helps in coordinating movement. As these neurons die, the level of dopamine in the body diminishes, resulting in the emergence of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Its exact cause remains unknown. However, there are a number of factors that have been known to increase the likelihood of this disorder.
People who are more than 60 years old are more at a risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than teenagers, adolescents and young adults.
Parkinson’s disease is more prevalent in men than women.
Environmental triggers like exposure to pesticides and herbicides for a considerable period of time can also increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
If anyone in your family is a patient of Parkinson’s disease then the chances of you developing this disorder become significantly high. However, you would have to have many relatives suffering from this condition to become a likely candidate for this disease.
Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease
1. Medications Used in the Early Course
Dopamine agonists such as Requip (ropinirole), Parlodel (bromocriptine) and Mirapex (pramipexole) are given as the first line of treatment to the patients of Parkinson’s disease. These medications mimic the work performed by dopamine in the body and in doing so try to contain the symptoms of the disease.
2. Medications Used As the Illness Advances
Carbidopa (Atamet) and Levodopa (Sinemet, Parcopa) are prescribed in combination with each other for those patients of Parkinson’s disease who are at an advanced stage of their illness. These medications are only recommended by the doctors if the dopamine agonists stop working.
3. Supplemental Medications
To control other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, many supplemental medications are also prescribed in addition to Levodopa and Carbidopa. Selegiline and Rasagiline which are both Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors, Cotman and Tasmar which are both Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT), Symmetrel, Kemadrin and Akineton and Mephenamine which are both anticholinergic medicines are among the supplemental drugs that are used for treating Parkinson’s disease.
Surgery is a procedure known as deep brain stimulation which involves placement of electrodes deep inside the brain which are connected to a pulse generator kept outside it. The electrodes stimulate the brain and control its abnormal activities through the electricity that is supplied to them by the pulse generator. Known also as a “brain pacemaker”, the deep brain stimulation procedure can help in improving the symptoms of this disease but cannot stop its progression.
5. Other Therapies
Since Parkinson’s disease affects a number of areas of the patient’s body, it is imperative to consider other forms of therapies as well. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational therapy, speech therapy, psychotherapy and dance, music and art therapy are among some of the therapies that prove to be useful.
Self-Care and Home Remedies for Parkinson’s Disease
1. Know This Disease
Learning about the disease can help you get a better understanding of your condition and also adapt to the lifestyle changes that you would have to make to make your life easier.
2. Get Support from Others
Getting help from people in your family or joining a support group that contains patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease can also help in reducing your stress and depression.
3. Manage Your Pressure
Use relaxation techniques to calm yourself down and reduce the tension that you are under as stress can aggravate the symptoms of the disease.
4. Take Proper Exercise
Exercising is important to improve balance, coordination and movement of muscles. However, it is important to consult the opinion of your doctor before starting any exercise regime. It is better to work with a physiotherapist who can guide you about the exercises that are most appropriate for you.
5. Eat Healthy Foods
Eating healthy foods is also important to keep away the fatigue and tiredness. Include fiber in your diet and increase your intake of fluids to avoid constipation.
6. Avoid Tumbles
Tumbling or falling becomes more frequent during the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. To avoid this, it is better to refrain from walking backwards or carrying things in your hands.
Watch this patient education video to help you understand Parkinson's disease and the various treatment options: