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Parkinson’s Disease: A Moment to Worry

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder and comes under the class of degenerative disease. This means that it is caused by the degeneration of nerve cells called neurons in certain regions of the brain. That’s why it is also commonly known as neurodegenerative disease. It is a progressive brain disorder and its symptoms increase gradually over time. 

What is Parkinson’s Disease

Primarily the patients with Parkinson’s disease show symptoms related to movement such as resting tremors in jaws, arms, hands, and legs, slowness of movement as well as muscle stiffness. After some time when the disorder gets worsens it also affects your mental health and causes symptoms of depression, sleep-related problems, and memory problems. With the progression of Parkinson’s disease, the patients are also unable to talk and walk properly.

Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million individuals worldwide. Virtually anyone is at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease but still, it is more commonly present in the male population than females. The reason behind this is not clear at all. The average development age of Parkinson’s disease is 60 and most people experience its symptoms in their sixties. Moreover, there are also cases in which patients show symptoms before the age of 50. However, it’s an age-related disease but still; there are some rare cases in which adults, as young as 20 years old also have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The reasons behind the early onset of Parkinson’s disease are sometimes inherited or sometimes due to mutation in a specific gene located on chromosome 4.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

The progressive rate and symptoms of this disease vary from person to person. The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease occur gradually and mostly are subtle. For example, people may start to speak softly, feel difficulty getting out of the chair; their handwriting looks small and cramped. At an early stage, only one side of the body shows the symptoms such as the person feeling tremors in the right arm or leg only. After some time due to the deterioration of brain cells, it affects both sides of the body. Due to Parkinson’s disease patients also lack animation and expression on their faces and are also unable to move one arm or leg in a normal way. These symptoms are discussed in detail below:

Motor-related Symptoms

These include all the symptoms that are related to movement.

i- Slow Movements:

It is also known as Bradykinesia. This symptom is a must to make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. In this symptom, patient claims that they are unable to move properly, and they take more time to perform even small tasks related to movement. They take small steps or sometimes drag their feet while walking. Their handwriting becomes cramped and slower.

ii- Tremor:

It is also a very common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. In this symptom, the patient feels rhythmic shaking in the muscles while the patient is not even using that muscle. Most of the time, it starts from a limb such as your hand or fingers. The patient’s hand keeps shaking even when he/she is not using their hand and it is at a resting position.

Famous People with Parkinson’s Disease

Every single year approximately 60,000 patients are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As I mentioned above this is an age-related disease and happened at the age of sixties but there are also cases where people develop this disease at an early age, for example, famous actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 30. He died in 2021 at the age of sixty. Other famous personalities suffer from this disease mentioned below:

  • Boxer, Muhammad Ali
  • Singer, Johnny Cash
  • Actress, Estelle Getty
  • Rock star, Ozzy Osbourne
  • Singer, Neil Diamond
  • Basketball player, Brian Grant
  • NASA astronaut, Michael Richard Clifford
  • Stand-up comedian, Billy Connolly

Causes of Parkinson’s disease

We can’t say there is any specific and exact reason behind the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease. It is a speculation that in some cases may be genetic predisposition cause Parkinson’s disease. Other factors also contribute to the development of this disease to some extent.

  • There are some areas in the brain that control our movement such as Substantia Nigra. Changes in these regions cause Parkinson’s disease.
  • Nerve cells also called neurons, especially those that produce Dopamine started to break down, impaired, and also 80% of neurons died in the brain. Due to this, the brain could not coordinate muscle movement which leads a person toward Parkinson’s disease.
  • Dopamine is a chemical messenger and takes part in many important activities in our brain such as movement, attention, mood, motivation, and memory. A low amount of Dopamine in the brain also causes impairment between body parts and our brain it may also cause Parkinson’s.
  • Some kind of gene defects or inheritance is the reason behind the early onset of Parkinson’s.

Some other factors also contribute to developing Parkinson’s disease. Such as

Presence of Alpha-synuclein: in Lewy bodies, there is an abnormal protein that cells can’t break down formed a clump also cause the development of Parkinson’s. 

Presence of Lewy bodies: it is not very clear but some researchers claim that the presence of substances called Lewy bodies in brain cells also cause Parkinson’s.

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease

This condition is a little difficult to diagnose because there is not a single well-defined test for Parkinson’s and physicians mistake it for other medical conditions. Usually, when a person goes to a doctor they took a detailed neurological and physical examination and medical history to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Other imaging tests also help to diagnose this condition such as computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Rating Scales for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease which means it developed with time from fewer symptoms to more severe symptoms. To identify the severity of symptoms can be identified with the help of different scales. These scales rate the progression of the disease by focusing on the motor symptoms of a person.

i- Hoehn and Yahr stages:

It is a very common and simple scale that is used to account for the stage of Parkinson’s from level I to Ⅴ. The rating on this scale such as Ⅰ and Ⅱ show early stage, Ⅲ shows mild-stage, and Ⅳ and Ⅴ represent advance-stage of Parkinson’s.

ii- The Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS):

This comprehensive tool help to rate the non-motor symptoms of a person with Parkinson’s disease such as mood, social interaction, and mental functioning. It also helps to account for other difficulties a person faces with this disease such as cognitive difficulties and complications during treatment as well as the ability to carry out daily life activities.

Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Since it is a degenerative disease there is not any permanent cure for this disease but medical experts and therapists try their best to comfort the person suffering from this disease. Different drugs are used to maintain the level of Dopamine in the brain that helps to control the symptoms effectively. 

There is also treatment available with electrodes in which electrodes are implanted in different areas of the brain specifically responsible for the disease. These electrodes produce electrical impulses that help to control twitching movements as well as tremors. In severe cases, some people also require surgery in which small areas of brain tissues cause the disease destroyed. 

When to Go to a Doctor?

It is a disease that started with fewer symptoms and people don’t notice them until it reached to severe conditions. People have also mistaken its symptoms with normal aging such as tremors, muscle stiffness, restless legs, loss of smell, and constipation. Go to your doctor if these symptoms started to affect your daily life activities.

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