Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects one’s body movement.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
In patients with Parkinson’s disease, certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain are gradually damaged until they die. The death of these neurons decreases the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When dopamine levels drop, brain activity becomes abnormal and can lead to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
When to See a Doctor for Parkinson’s Disease?
Consult a neurologist if you have symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. Apart from being able to diagnose your condition, the neurologist will also rule out diagnoses that have similar symptoms to other diseases. Thus, this helps determine the right medical treatment you need.
Neurologists determine the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease by conducting a detailed medical interview, direct physical tests, and additional tests if necessary. The physical test usually includes examining the patient’s neurological status.
To rule out other possible diagnoses, neurologists may recommend laboratory blood tests and imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The signs and symptoms in Parkinson’s patients vary from patient to patient. Early symptoms can be simply minor changes. Symptoms often start on one side of the patient’s body.
Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can include:
Shaking or tremor usually occurs in your limbs, often your hands or fingers. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth, which is known as a pill-rolling tremor. Additionally, your hands may tremble when resting.
Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
Over time, a Parkinson’s patient’s movements can become slower, making it difficult to perform simple and time-consuming activities. Your steps may be shorter or you may even have to drag your feet while walking. You may also have difficulty getting out of the chair.
Muscle stiffness can occur in several of your body parts. You may feel the sensation of stiffness in the muscles that limit your range of motion.
Impaired posture and balance
The posture of a Parkinson’s patient may become stooped and some patients may experience balance problems.
Loss of automatic movements
Parkinson’s patients may experience decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms while walking.
You may speak softly, quickly, slur, or appear hesitant before speaking. In addition, your speech technique tends to be more monotone compared with usual inflections.
You may face difficulty in writing and your writing appears smaller.
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease can only be treated by a neurologist, although it cannot be completely cured. Treatment will help control Parkinson’s symptoms and prevent future complications.
Treatment Cost for Parkinson’s Disease
The treatment cost for neurological diseases is often determined after the neurologist understands the patient’s condition. Smarter Health can help you find specialist doctors and hospitals within your treatment budget.
Prevention of Parkinson’s Disease
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. Thus, there have not been any proven ways to prevent this disease completely. Several studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Research on risk factors in patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s suggests that you should be aware of Parkinson’s if:
Parkinson’s usually occurs in middle or late age, and the risk increases as you age. People who are prone to Parkinson’s disease are within the age group of 60 or so.
Having a close relative with Parkinson’s disease increases your chances of developing the disease.
Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women.
Exposure to toxins.
Constant exposure to herbicides and pesticides can slightly increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
There are also other studies which show that people who consume caffeine (coffee, tea, and colas) are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who do not. However, it is still not known if caffeine actually has a direct preventive effect on preventing Parkinson’s, or if it is linked to other mechanisms. To date, there is inadequate evidence for healthcare professionals to recommend drinking caffeine as a preventative measure for Parkinson’s disease.