What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common forms of parkinsonism. While Parkinson’s disease treatments are still being researched, it has been found that an estimated 10 million people around the world are affected by it. A progressive disorder related to the nervous system, Parkinson’s disease is known to affect the body’s natural movements. The occurrence of the disorder is known to increase with age, however, in most cases, it is mostly diagnosed before the age of 50.

The disorder occurs when the dopaminergic neurons are affected. These neurons are accountable for the production of dopamine, a chemical that helps in relaying messages from the body to the brain. There is no cure for the disease as of today, however, physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease can help patients to control their tremors and flexibility of the body.

Symptoms Experienced by Patients

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is mild and can often go unnoticed during the early stages and often begins on one side of the body but these signs can be distinct for everyone. As time passes, the symptoms become more visible and get worse on the side where they started first even though both sides of the body are affected.

Some of the signs and symptoms that a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease may suffer from are as follows-

  1. Tremors in the limbs, mostly in the hand or fingers. You will experience the tremor in your hand especially when you are at rest. The tremors make it difficult for a person to write, or even hold a spoon steadily.
  2. Your range of movement will start slowing down, a condition also known as bradykinesia. This will make it difficult and time-consuming for a person to carry out even the simplest tasks.
  3. Patients may also notice that their steps becoming shorter when they walk. Patients may also be seen dragging their feet when they walk due to the disorder. This may also result in problems while performing other normal activities like getting out of a chair.
  4. Patients will experience rigidness in the muscles on any part of their body, which can be painful and limit their range of motion.
  5. Patients of Parkinson’s disease often suffer from poor impaired posture, often resulting in a stooped body. They may also experience problems with balancing their body as a result of the disorder.
  6. Patients lose control over involuntary movements of the body like blinking, swinging the arms while walking, or even smiling.
  7. Parkinson’s disease will affect a person’s speech often making him/her speak softly or quickly. The speech will become slurry as the disease progresses and will have no emotions which others normally do.

Causes of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease usually occurs due to death or break down of certain nerve cells, hence Parkinson’s disease treatments can only help to only some extent. Often, the symptoms noticed in patients are due to the loss of dopamine, which results in abnormal activities in the brain and thus leading to the disorder. Medical professionals are still looking for a specific cause leading to the disease. However, there are certain factors that play a role in the occurrence of the disease. These factors are as follows-

  1. According to certain researchers, Parkinson’s disease is often related to genetic mutations. This, however, is rare and only happens if there are many family members, who have been affected by Parkinson’s.
  2. Environmental factors like toxins also increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, even though the risks, in this case, is relatively small.
  3. Lewy bodies, which are like clumps of certain substances, found within brain cells are also known to cause Parkinson’s disease. According to researchers, these Lewy bodies possess an imminent clue that could lead to the cause of Parkinson’s disease.
  4. Age is an important factor that plays a role in the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is often experienced by people, mid-life or later, around age 60 or older.; young people have a rare occurrence of the disease. The risk of Parkinson’s disease increases with age.
  5. Men have a higher possibility of developing Parkinson’s disease than are women.

Problems Faced by Patients of Parkinson’s Disease

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s often suffer from cognitive difficulties like dementia which often occurs in the later stages and is not responsive to medications. Other than that, there are cases wherein people experience depression and strong emotional changes like anxiety and feeling demotivated even during the early stages. Some other problems that patients will come across are-

  • Difficulty in swallowing food and drooling due to the accumulation of saliva in the mouth.
  • During the later stage of Parkinson’s a patient will experience difficulty in chewing because the muscles in the mouth are affected by the disease. Often, this can lead to choking or poor nutrition.
  • Parkinson’s patients often experience problems sleeping. This can cause abrupt sleep routines causing them to wake up frequently throughout the night, wake up early in the mornings, or also causing them to fall asleep during the day.
  • Patients will face bladder problems due to the disease making it difficult for them to control urination or bowel movements.
  • Parkinson’s patients have a slower digestive tract, which causes constipation.

Other than these complications, patients may also experience-

  • Sudden changes in blood pressure levels
  • Problems in the sense of smell
  • Loss of energy and always feeling tired
  • A sensation of pain in certain body parts
  • A decrease in sexual performance and desire.

Preventive Measures

There are no proven theories or Parkinson’s disease treatments to prevent its occurrence. However, according to certain researches, there are certain things that can be done to reduce the risks.

  • Performing aerobic exercises or outdoor sports on a regular basis has been found to reduce the risks associated with Parkinson’s disease. This happens because exercising helps to release important chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, which all keep the brain healthy. If you opt for physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease your therapist can help you with these exercises.
  • Drinking caffeine has also been proven to decrease the risks of Parkinson’s.
  • Green tea is also related to a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease Treatment

There are no proven methods of Parkinson’s disease treatments for patients. However, medications and physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease are recommended to help patients strengthen and loosen muscles. With the help of physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease, patients can get help for problems related to balance, coordination, fatigue, and even immobility.

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