Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder. Movement problems are the initial signs of this mental disease. The brain has a substance called dopamine. It is responsible for the body’s coordinated and smooth muscle movement.
According to studies, in Parkinson’s Disease, the substantia nigra cells begin to die, reducing dopamine levels. Furthermore, Parkinson’s Disease symptoms start making an appearance when the level drops sixty to eighty percent.
At the time, no definitive way has been found to cure this chronic and progressive disease. Each year about 50,000 new cases get reported in the United States. In addition, Parkinson’s disease is reported to be the 14th major death cause in the United States.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Scientists and researchers have not been able to determine the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease. They have multiple views. Some may comprise both environmental and genetic components, and others think viruses can trigger it.
Norepinephrine is another substance present in the body that controls the regulation of dopamine. Decreased levels of both these substances are linked with Parkinson’s disease. Lewy bodies are abnormal proteins present in people with Parkinson’s. Their role and link with Parkinson’s are still unknown.
Even though there is no specified cause for Parkinson’s, researchers have identified different groups of people who have a higher chance of developing this condition. Some of them are:
This disease commonly develops in people aged from fifty to sixty. However, only five to ten percent of the total cases were in people aged below forty.
The chances of Parkinson’s in White are higher than in Asians and African Americans.
The risk of Parkinson’s is 1.5 times higher in men as compared to women.
The possibility of developing Parkinson’s is higher in people who have family members already suffering through it.
People who suffered from head injuries have a higher possibility of developing Parkinson’s.
The risk of occurrence of this problem is higher in people who are exposed to certain toxins.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can go unnoticed. Some initial symptoms of Parkinson’s appear several years before the motor problems.
These initial symptoms are:
- Stooped posture,
- Voice changes,
- Cramped and small handwriting,
- Decreased smelling ability.
The major motor problems that appear are:
- Balance problem and a higher tendency to fall,
- Stiffness in trunk, legs, and arms,
- Slow movements,
Secondary symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Reduced arm movement while walking,
- Increased tendency of falling backward,
- Decreased swallowing and blinking,
- Low-volume and muffled speech,
- A tendency of getting stuck while walking,
- Blank facial expression.
Some severe symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Memory and attention problems,
- Disturbed sleep with movement in sleep, talking, and vivid dreams,
- Higher chances of developing a serious skin cancer type called melanoma,
- Development of seborrheic dermatitis in which yellow and flaky white scales form on oily parts of the skin.
Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
Since Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, its symptoms and condition worsen with time. Doctors often classify its stages using Hoehn and Yahr scale. It divides the symptoms into five stages according to the level of advancement of symptoms and signs of disease.
It is the mildest and initial stage. The symptoms at this stage are not very noticeable and may not interfere with the normal routine. Moreover, the symptom will probably be isolated to just one side of the body.
It often takes months or years for the disease to progress from the initial stage to the next. Therefore, the condition and experiences vary in different people. This is the moderate stage, and the symptoms experienced are:
- Changes facial expression,
- Muscle stiffness.
At this stage, daily tasks start getting prolonged and complicated. Balance problems are not likely experienced at this stage. But, the symptoms become relatively noticeable and may start appearing on the whole body.
This is the middle stage at which the symptoms take a turning point. New symptoms may not appear, but the previous ones become noticeable and start interfering with the daily tasks.
At this stage, performance becomes noticeably slower, and balance issues become prominent, making falls frequent. But at stage 3, people can perform their tasks without much assistance and can maintain their independence.
There is a prominent change that occurs when the disease reaches stage 4. At this point, it becomes difficult to stand and work without assistance. The muscle movement and reactions become significantly slow. At stage 4, it becomes possibly unsafe and dangerous to live alone.
This is the most advanced stage, with severe symptoms making all-time assistance a necessity. After that, standing becomes difficult to impossible, and symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and confusion start appearing.
Heredity and Parkinson’s
Researchers believe that both genetics and environment play a role in the chances of a person developing Parkinson’s. The extent of the impact they have is yet to be determined. Most cases are found to be in people with no significant family history of Parkinson’s, and only fifteen percent of such cases exist. Cases of heredity are not common, and it is unlikely for a parent to pass Parkinson’s to their child.
How is Parkinson’s Disease diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Parkinson’s is based on a neurological and physical exam and not on a specific test. Besides, a person’s symptoms, signs, and health history are also considered while examining.
Doctors usually prescribe a dopamine transporter and some imaging tests, including MRI and CAT scans, to rule out other problems. These tests help support and confirm a doctor’s diagnosis even though they do not confirm Parkinson’s.
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
The treatment for Parkinson’s is based on an individual’s symptoms. There is no standard set for it. Different treatments are done, including medication and surgical therapies, along with lifestyle modifications such as more exercise and rest.
There are no medications yet to reverse and fully cure the effects of Parkinson’s, but its symptoms can be treated with several medications. To manage the symptoms, people take different doses of numerous medications at different times of the day.
It isn’t easy to keep track of all the medications but understanding their effect and developing a schedule provides a great benefit and optimum effect.
Exercises for Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease interferes and causes problems with regular day-to-day activities. However, these problems can be reduced by performing simple and easy stretches and exercises to improve mobility.
To improve walking
- Standing straight and checking the posture,
- Let your foot heel come in contact with the ground first,
- Pace yourself,
- Walk carefully.
To avoid falling
- Remove any obstacles in the path and tripping hazards,
- Instead of pivoting on the feet, take a U-turn,
- Avoid reaching and leaning,
- Avoid carrying things when walking,
- Lastly, avoid walking backward.
When getting dressed
- Try to wear bottoms with an elastic waistband instead of zippers and buttons,
- Use items with Velcro rather than buttons,
- Chose clothes that are easier to wear,
- Avoid rushing while getting ready.
Moreover, yoga is also beneficial in minimizing the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. It helps to control tremors and improves flexibility and mobility.
Diet for Parkinson’s Disease
Diet plays an imperative role in the lives of people with Parkinson’s. Therefore, a healthy and balanced diet can have a significant effect, even though it cannot prevent or treat the progression of its symptoms.
Since Parkinson’s is caused by decreased dopamine levels in the brain, natural foods can help increase its level.
A healthy diet that is focused on certain nutrients can help reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s and prevent their progression. Some of these foods are:
Foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants help to prevent brain damage and oxidative stress. These foods include nightshade vegetables, berries, and nuts.
Levodopa is a substance present in these lime green beans. It is also a component used in various medications for Parkinson’s.
These are a type of fats healthy for both the brain and heart. They are present in some beans, flax seeds, oysters, and salmon. These foods help to prevent brain damage.
Besides eating a diet with these foods, it also best to avoid saturated and dairy fats, as they increase the risk and speed up the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
To conclude, Parkinson’s Disease is a type of nervous system disorder in which a person’s movements are affected. It gradually progresses, starting with some barely noticeable symptoms such as a slight tremor in one hand, slowed and stiff movements.
In its initial stages, a person may show no expressions and have a stiff arm while walking. In addition, their speech can get soft or slurred. The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease get worse as the health condition advances with time.
Although there is no definitive way to cure Parkinson’s disease, its symptoms can markedly be improved by medications. In addition, a doctor may suggest surgery to improve the symptoms and regulate the brain’s functioning.