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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition, which progressively affects the nervous system causing difficulties in movement. The condition manifests slowly and gradually over time and may start with an involuntary shaking of a hand causing a noticeable tremor. During the early stages of the disease, a person’s face may show no expressions or some little expression. The arms may also not swing especially when you are walking, signifying that there is problem with involuntary movement of the body parts. In addition, a patient may have slurred or soft speech.

Causes of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is caused by reduced amount of dopamine chemical in a person’s brain. This occurs when there is a loss of nerves in substantia nigra part of the brain. The chemical dopamine helps in regulation of body parts movement. When there is reduced amount of this substance, it leads to increased symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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However, it is not clearly understood why the loss of nerve cells occurs in body. Scientists believe that environmental and genetic factors may cause the loss of nerve cells in substantia nigra. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and when the part of the brain that synthesises and produces this chemical substance deteriorates or fails to function properly, it results to difficulties in body movement. Other factors that are linked to Parkinson’s disease include aging, free radicals, and toxins.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease mainly manifest at an old age of around 50 to 60 and at times, they may not be noticed easily even by the person suffering from the condition. Some of the symptoms may appear on one side of a patient’s body and may not progress to the other side. Moreover, the symptoms vary from one individual to another and also depending on the stage of the disease.

Some of the symptoms include shaky hands, arms, and left or what is referred to as tremor. Usually the tremor in these parts of the body occurs when a person is standing, sitting or awake and when the body part is moved, the tremor or shaking subsides. Other symptoms include stiff and aching muscles.

Among the early signs of Parkinson’s disease is rigidity or stiffness of muscles, which leads to reduced movement or swinging of arm as a person walks, often occurring on one side of the body. Muscles of the face, neck, legs, and other parts of the body may also feed achy and tired due to the stiffness.

Bradykinesia is another symptom of the disease, which is characterized by slow and limited movement when a person attempts to move the body from a resting position. A person may have difficulties in getting up from a chair or even turning his or her position in bed. There is also weakness of throat and facial muscles.

A patient may have difficulties in swallowing and talking resulting to coughing, drooling, or choking. The speech also becomes monotonous and soft. Parkinson’s mask may also occur where a person shows fixed and vacant expression of the face. Postural instability or balance and gait problems also occur in a patient. A person with this disease may shuffle the feet closely together in an effort to gain body stability.

Small steps and bending forward to attain a stooped posture are also signs of loss of stability of the body. Besides these symptoms, there are other general signs such as emotional and physical stress. Depression and daytime sleepiness are also experienced in a patient with the condition. Increased dandruff, oily skin, muscle and joint cramps as well as problems in digestive and urinary systems may also occur.

Treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Although there is no cure for this disease, different therapies and treatment procedures can help ease the symptoms. There is no treatment that can reverse or even stop the loss or breakdown of the nerve cells, which result to Parkinson’s disease. The treatment applied will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the progression of the disease.

During the initial stages of the disease when the symptoms are not severe, a doctor may recommend that you do not use drugs and perhaps wait until the symptoms start interfering with your daily activities. Nonetheless, some therapies such as occupation therapy, physical therapy and exercise may be recommended at all stages of the condition. These therapies can help improve the strength of muscles and stability of the body.

Moreover, a healthy diet is also essential in improving the general wellbeing of the body. Because patients with Parkinson’s disease may suffer from depression and emotional stress, there is a need to get treatment for the same. When the signs begin showing up and interfering with the normal activities of a patient, drugs may be recommended. Nonetheless, the doctor will discuss with you on the most appropriate type of treatment after weighing the side effects of the drugs.

Levodopa is one of the drugs used in treatment of this condition. The treatment needs of a patient will change as the symptoms advance to more severe form. When the condition gets worse, use of drugs may be limited owing to the side effects and other therapies are introduced to aid in the treatment such as speech therapy.

Parkinson’s Disease – Pictures

Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinsons’ Disease

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