by AK Team
In neurology, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the person’s movements and over a period of time it may also be converted into paralysis.
Parkinson’s disease occurs when the nerve cells, that is the neurons become impaired or completely die in an area of the brain that is called substantia nigra. These impaired cells normally produce dopamine, that is a chemical or neurotransmitter that helps the brain cells to communicate by transmitting signals between the areas in the brain. As these neurons die automatically the amount of dopamine produced is less. The loss of dopamine affects the movements of the people.
Although Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured completely, some medications might improve or reduce some of the symptoms.
STAGES OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
There are basically 5 stages of Parkinson’s disease.
STAGE 1 :
- It is the initial stage in which the person starts to experience mild symptoms.
- These symptoms do not interfere with the daily life activities in this stage initially.
- Tremor and other movement symptoms occur on only one side of the body.
- The person might also experience changes in posture, walking and facial expressions.
STAGE 2 :
- In this stage the symptoms start to get more severe.
- Tremor, rigidity and other movements appear on both sides of the body now.
- The person is able to live alone but doing daily life activities start to get a bit difficult now.
- The person takes more time in doing even simple tasks.
STAGE 3 :
- This stage is considered as the mid – stage.
- In this stage individuals experience loss of balance and their movements start to get slower.
- The symptoms start to get more worse and the person is not even able to do simple activities like dressing and even eating now.
- The might fall from time to time and it becomes very common in stage three.
STAGE 4 :
- In this stage the symptoms are more severe and limiting.
- The person might stand without any help, but he is not able to walk independently and requires a helping hand or a walker.
- People on this stage cannot live alone and require a helping hand as they are not able to do any daily life activity by their own.
- In this last stage, the legs may become completely stiff making it almost impossible for the person to walk or even stand.
- The person compulsorily requires a wheel chair or is at complete bed rest.
- As the time proceeds the person requires a nursing help for doing all the normal activities.
- The person might experience hallucinations and delusions.
SYMPTOMS OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from person to person and it also depends on which stage of the disease the person is in. In the initial stages the symptoms may go unnoticed and in the later stages as the symptoms get more worse the person observes it then. The most common symptoms may include :
A tremor is basically shaking. It begins in the person’s hand or arms that is in the limbs. In the early stages only one side of the body is affected by it. The person may move his thumb and forefinger back and forth, this is known as pill – rolling tremor. The person’s hand might tremble when he is at rest.
- Slowness of movement (bradykinesia):
Bradykinesia is basically the slowing down of movements over a period of time as Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder. And this slowness is caused by the brain’s slowness in transmitting the necessary instructions to all parts of the body. It may even become difficult to get out of a chair and the person might have to drag his feet as his tries to walk.
- Rigid muscles:
Rigid muscles or stiff limbs may occur in any part of the body. It can be painful and they, might as well limit the range of motions. This rigidity is caused by uncontrolled tensing of the muscles and might result in the person not being able to move about freely.
- Impaired posture and balance:
The person might have an impaired posture and he or she might also have balance problems. The person may feel like his feet is stuck to the floor while he tries to make a movement.
- Loss of automatic movements:
The person may have decreased ability to perform certain automatic or unconscious movements which include, smiling, blinking, or just swinging the arms around when he or she walks.
- Speech changes:
The person might speak softly, quickly, slur or might even hesitate to talk. The person’s speech would be a monotone rather than having some usual inflections.
- Muscle twisting, spasms or cramps (dystonia):
The person might experience painful cramps in his foot or curled and clenched toes. Dystonia can also occur in other parts of the body as well.
Other symptoms might also include:
- Urinary problems
- Memory problems
- Skin problems
- Loss of smell
- Sleeping disturbances
CAUSES OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. It can probably be caused by a mix of things that might include:
- Genetic disorders
- Exposure to certain toxins
It is a bit difficult for Parkinson’s disease to be inherited and most of the time it seems to happen randomly to any person.
DIAGNOSIS OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
There is yet no specific test for the detection of Parkinson’s disease. The doctor might just ask a few questions related to your symptoms and might ask you your medical history as well.
The doctor might suggest some specific tests such as :
- SPECT (single proton emission computerized tomography)
- Blood tests
- Ultrasound of brain
- PET scan
TREATMENT OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Parkinson’s disease is a non-curable disease but the doctor might prescribe some medications to reduce its symptoms.
Medications may help the person manage problems with walking, movements and tremor.
The medicines that the doctor might prescribe include:
- Inhaled carbidopa-levodopa
- Carbidopa-levodopa infusion
- Dopamine agonists
- MAO B inhibitors
- Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors
PREVENTION FROM PARKINSON’S DISEASE
There is no way to prevent Parkinson’s disease unfortunately. It just worsens over time. Although there is no way to prevent it, some medications may significantly relieve the symptoms especially for people who are in later stage of the disease.