What is Parkinson's?

What is Parkinson's?

What is Parkinson's disease

What is Parkinson's disease? What causes Parkinson's disease? Signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease. What is the treatment for Parkinson's disease?

If you have all these questions in your mind, then you will get all the answers in this post.

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What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a slow and progressive brain disease that affects brain cells. Cells in areas of the brain produce dopamine, which regulates the control and flow of body movements. 

Degeneration of dopamine producing cells results in decreased levels of dopamine.

In this case, symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear. 

The disease affects both sexes, although Parkinson's may be diagnosed at younger ages. The disease usually affects the age group of 40 to 75 and most commonly, people over the age of 60. 


Parkinson's symptoms

There are four main symptoms of Parkinson's disease:-

  • Tremor

A tremor usually starts in the hands or arms. It may appear at rest and disappear when the affected body part is moved, yet it may be persistent in certain people.

  • Brady kinesis

The second symptom is slowness of movement, which is called brady kinesis. Slowness of movement appears in the movements of the arms and legs, which reduces the ability to swing arms while walking, causes walking problems and leads to a decrease in facial expression due to deformed facial mimic muscles.

  • Stiffness

The third symptom is stiffness in the arms, legs, and trunk. In other words, rigidity. 

  • Postural instability

The fourth symptom is postural instability, which causes increased forward bend of the torso and shortened step length. Balance problems are also observed in this symptom. 

  • Other symptoms

Apart from the listed four cardinal clinical features, other symptoms may also appear. For example, the patient may have abnormal, smaller or shaky handwriting or may experience problems with writing signatures. The patient may also suffer from slurred or slow speech. 

The main symptoms may be accompanied by a reduced sense of smell, constipation, and changes in blood pressure.

Another symptom is R.E.M. sleep behaviour, which is usually a disorder which is usually characterized by dream enacting such as talking, yelling, kicking or punching during sleep.

Patients with Parkinson's disease have stiffness in their limbs, also called rigidity, which causes pain in the torso, arms and legs.


Different stages of Parkinson's disease

  • First stage of Parkinson's disease 

Stage one is the earliest stage. Symptoms of PD can be mild on one side of the body (unilateral involvement) and usually cause minimal to no functional impairment.

The first stage symptoms of Parkinson's disease may not be present in the patient. Stage one symptoms may include tremors (such as intermittent tremors in one hand), rigidity, or one leg or hand may feel more clumsy or swollen than the other. One side of the face may also be affected, which could affect the expression.

The first stage can be very difficult to diagnose. A physician might wait to see if symptoms worsen over time before making an official diagnosis.

  • Second stage of Parkinson's Disease

Stage two of PD is still early. It is characterized by symptoms on both sides of the body (bilateral involvement), or at the midline, without impairment of balance. Stage two can develop months or even years after stage 1.

Symptoms of stage 2 PD include loss of facial expression, reduced blinking, speech abnormalities and monotone voice. However, the person is still capable of performing daily tasks.

If the patient is tremor-prone, the diagnosis may be straightforward at this stage. 

  • Third stage of Parkinson's Disease

Stage three, which is mid-stage, is marked by slowness and loss of balance.

Inability to make quick, automatic, or involuntary adjustments to prevent falls can cause imbalance. Falls are quite common at this stage. Stage three is where most symptoms of PD can be seen.

A physician may diagnose impairments in reflexes by gently pulling the shoulders of the patient to see if they have difficulty maintaining balance or falling backwards. In stage three of Parkinson's disease, the patient remains fully independent in daily activities such as dressing, hygiene, and eating.

  • Fourth stage of Parkinson's Disease

Stage four is when PD becomes a severe disability. Stage four PD patients may be able to walk unassisted but are still severely incapacitated. Many patients use a walker to aid them.

At this stage, the patient can not live independently and requires assistance.

  • Fifth stage of Parkinson’s disease

Stage five is the most advanced stage and is marked by the inability to get up from a chair or out of bed on their own. Patients may also have a tendency to fall while standing or turning and may stumble or freeze when walking.

This stage requires round-the-clock support for patients to help them with daily activities and reduce the chance of falling. The patient might also experience hallucinations or delusions at stage five.

Although symptoms may worsen over time, it is important to note that not all patients with PD reach stage five. Individuals will experience different progression times. 

Some symptoms may not be present in all individuals. One person may have problems with tremors, while the other may have problems with balance. There are also treatments that can help at any stage of the disease. 

Treatment for Parkinson's disease

The goal of treatment for Parkinson's disease is to reduce symptoms and improve the quality of everyday life.

There are some basic parameters which are considered before Parkinson's disease treatment, such as the patient's age, stage of the disease and adverse effects of the medications used are taken into consideration.

The main goal of the treatment is to increase dopamine levels. Early intervention is critically important and treatment should be started before dopamine reserves are depleted.

There are certain medications used to elevate and maintain dopamine levels.

The progress of the disease may be accompanied by findings such as depression and dementia. Such findings also need to be treated with medication.

Surgical treatment options are available for Parkinson's disease. When medications prove ineffective or cause adverse effects, a neurosurgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation may be applied.

Traditionally, the method known as P.E.G.J has been more commonly used in recent years. The method involves the release of liquid dosage forms through the stomach into the small intestine.

Another important option for Parkinson's is physiotherapy. Personalized exercise programs should be developed in order to help patients stay active in daily life.

Causes of Parkinson's disease 

Although the cause of Parkinson's is not known, there are several factors that could play a role, such as.

  • Genes

Researchers have discovered specific genetic mutations that could cause Parkinson's disease. These are rare, except in cases where there are many Parkinson's patients in the family.

However, some genetic mutations may increase Parkinson's risk, but each one has a small chance of developing the disease.

  • Environmental triggers

The risk of developing Parkinson's later in life is higher if you are exposed to certain chemicals or environmental factors, but the risk of contracting the disease is very low.

Researchers also found that the brains of Parkinson's patients show many changes, though it is not known why. These changes include:

  • The presence of Lewy bodies

The microscopic signs of Parkinson's disease are the presence of specific substances in brain cells. These are known as Lewy bodies, and researchers believe that these Lewy body clues may be a key to understanding the causes of Parkinson's disease.

  • a-synuclein within Lewy bodies

While many substances can be found in Lewy bodies, Alpha-synuclein is an important one, which is a natural protein. It is found in all Lewy bodies as a clumped form that cells can not break down. Researchers studying Parkinson's disease are focusing on this area.

How to prevent Parkinson's disease

Studies show that physical activity is not only helpful for Parkinson's disease patients, but it also helps to delay or prevent the disease from developing. 

Moving your body helps you build strength, balance, endurance, and coordination. This is especially true when aerobic exercise is included. Research has shown that blood circulation is important for brain tissues to build up protection mechanisms. Studies have shown that Parkinson's patients with strong hearts and healthy brains are more likely to do well on thinking and muscle control tests, and live longer. 

Exercise that increases heart rate also helps brain neurons form new connections and maintain old connections. This makes the brain work better for longer. Exercise is always good for your heart and brain. It also helps prevent or reduce the risk of developing other chronic diseases.

Proper nutrition is crucial for energy and overall health. You should eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, lean protein, beans, legumes, whole grains, and the right amount of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. 

Research has also shown that the Mediterranean diet may be beneficial in reducing blood pressure. This diet is rich in good fats like olive oil and high in Omega-3 fatty acid fish like salmon. 

This diet encourages foods rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, purple, red, and blue grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes, acorn, and butternut squash. A wide range of foods that are less processed is the key.

Good health is always related to physical activity, exercise, and eating healthy foods.

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