Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a widespread neurodegenerative disorder as well as the most common disorder that affects movement.  PD is mostly portrayed as advancing loss of muscle control, which is indicated with a quaky head and extremities, sluggish mobility, and diminished balance.  Once PD progresses, incredible difficulty in talking, walking, and completing everyday tasks becomes a burden nearly unmanageable.Parkinson's

The progression and severity of PD differs from patient to patient.  Numerous patients live long, productive lives with minimal help.  However, those that suffer with severe PD grow into full disability rapidly and have a short life span due to complication of falling injuries or Pneumonia.  The causes linked to PD are the lack of dopamine (an organic chemical that helps control the brain and body) which causes the attack of motor systems.  Studies show that inflammation and stress can add to cell damage.  Genetic and environmental factor are also thought to be contributors of PD.

Symptoms

* Tremors: Trembling in fingers, hands, arms, feet, legs, jaw, or head.

* Rigidity: Stiffness of the limbs and trunk, which may increase during movement. Rigidity may produce muscle aches and pain.

* Bradykinesia: Slowness of voluntary movement.

* Postural instability: Impaired or lost reflexes can make it difficult to adjust posture to maintain balance.

* Parkinsonian gait: Individuals with more progressive Parkinson’s disease develop a distinctive shuffling walk with a stooped position and a diminished or absent arm swing.

Secondary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Some of the secondary symptoms include:

* anxiety, insecurity, and stress

* confusion, memory loss, and dementia (more common in elderly individuals),

* constipation * depression * male erectile dysfunction

Treatment

There is currently no treatment to cure Parkinson’s disease. Several therapies are available to delay the onset of motor symptoms and to ameliorate motor symptoms. All of these therapies are designed to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain either by replacing dopamine, mimicking dopamine, or prolonging the effect of dopamine by inhibiting its breakdown. Studies have shown that early therapy in the non-motor stage can delay the onset of motor symptoms, thereby extending quality of life.

The most effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease is levodopa (Sinemet), which is converted to dopamine in the brain. However, because long-term treatment with levodopa can lead to unpleasant side effects (a shortened response to each dose, painful cramps, and involuntary

movements), its use is often delayed until motor impairment is more severe. Levodopa is frequently prescribed together with carbidopa (Sinemet), which prevents levodopa from being broken down before it reaches the brain. Co-treatment with carbidopa allows for a lower levodopa dose, thereby reducing side effects.

In earlier stages of Parkinson’s disease, substances that mimic the action of dopamine (dopamine agonists), and substances that reduce the breakdown of dopamine (monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B) inhibitors) can be very efficacious in relieving motor symptoms. Unpleasant side effects of these preparations are quite common, including swelling caused by fluid accumulation in body tissues, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, and nausea.

For some individuals with advanced, virtually unmanageable motor symptoms, surgery may be an option. In deep brain stimulation (DBS), the surgeon implants electrodes to stimulate areas of the brain involved in movement. In another type of surgery, specific areas in the brain that cause Parkinson’s symptoms are destroyed.

An alternative approach currently being explored is the use of dopamine-producing cells derived from stem cells. While stem cell therapy has great potential, more research is required before such cells can become of therapeutic value in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. In addition to medication and surgery, general lifestyle changes, rest and exercise, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy may be beneficial.

Coping

Parkinson’s disease is slow moving as it attacks the attacks the body.  One diagnosed with PD must adapt to a new way of life and depend on family, friends, and support groups to help the sufferer survive PD mentally and emotionally.  Acknowledging loss of independence and consenting to receive the help needed is essential in the road to treatment.  Health care providers will monitor the progression of PD and will make not of any changes.  It is important to attend all appointments to keep your PD from spiraling out of control.  Early diagnoses is crucial, as well as reporting any changes of symptoms.  Research on a cure for PD is continuous, which offers hope to those that have a PD diagnoses.

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