What Should You Know About Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain illness that affects people as they get older. It causes parts of the brain to degrade. It’s most well-known for causing slow movements, tremors, and balance issues, among other things. The majority of instances are caused by unknown factors, however, some are hereditary. Although the illness is not curable, there are numerous treatment options available. Therefore, understanding Parkinson’s disease symptoms allows you and your doctor to decide on the most proper and timely therapies.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system condition. The loss of nerve cells in the brain called the substantia nigra is the culprit of this disease. Consequently, dopamine, a neurotransmitter required for smooth muscle control and movement, decreases.
Causes of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease can be caused by certain genetic abnormalities. However, except in rare circumstances where a large number of family members are affected with Parkinson’s disease, they are unusual.
Certain gene changes, on the other hand, appear to enhance the chance of Parkinson’s disease, while the risk of Parkinson’s disease is rather low for any of these genetic markers.
According to PubMed, in most populations, 3-5% of Parkinson’s disease is explained by genetic causes linked to known Parkinson’s disease genes, thus representing monogenic Parkinson’s disease, whereas 90 genetic risk variants collectively explain 16-36% of the heritable risk of non-monogenic Parkinson’s disease
Certain chemicals and toxins such as manganese dust, carbon monoxide, fumes from welding, or certain pesticides may raise the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life, but the risk is modest.
Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is attributed to difficulties with how your body processes a protein called alpha-synuclein. Proteins are chemical molecules with distinctive shapes. Protein misfolding is a condition in which certain proteins don’t have the right form and can’t be used or broken down by the body.
Proteins accumulate in diverse regions or in certain cells because they have nowhere else to go (tangles or clumps of these proteins are called Lewy bodies). The development of these Lewy bodies generates toxic consequences and cell destruction which does not occur with some of the hereditary abnormalities that cause Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms
The indications and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from person to person. Early warning indicators could be subtle and go unnoticed. Even when symptoms start to impact both sides of your body, symptoms normally start on one side of your body and get worse on that side.
Among the indications and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
Tremor or shaking, usually starts in one of your limbs, most commonly in your hand or fingers. A pill-rolling tremor occurs when you rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth. When your hand is at rest, it may shake.
Sluggish movement (bradykinesia) results from Parkinson’s disease, making routine tasks more complex and time-consuming. When you walk, your steps may become shorter. Getting out of a chair can be challenging. When you try to walk, your feet may drag.
Muscle stiffness can strike at any time and in any portion of your body. This means your muscles become rigid when you get Parkinson’s disease. Stiff muscles can be uncomfortable and restrict your range of motion.
Posture and balance are impaired by Parkinson’s disease, your posture may become stooped, and you may experience balance issues.
Loss of automatic movements occurs. You may have a harder time doing unconscious actions like blinking, smiling, or swinging your arms as you walk.
The tone of voice shifts. You may speak softly, fast, slurring, or pause before speaking. Instead of the regular inflections, your speech may be more monotonous.
Writing difficulties are considered a result of Parkinson’s disease.
Diagnose Parkinson’s disease
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be caused by a variety of conditions. Parkinsonism is a term used to describe people who have Parkinson’s-like symptoms that are caused by anything other than Parkinson’s disease. While these illnesses may initially be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, specific medical tests, as well as pharmacological treatment responses, may aid to separate them from Parkinson’s disease.
To rule out other conditions, healthcare providers can apply various imaging and diagnostic tests:
- Blood tests (these can help rule out other forms of parkinsonism).
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
- Genetic testing.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
Parkinson’s disease treatments
Medications may aid in the management of issues such as walking, movement, and tremor. These drugs boost dopamine levels or act as a dopamine replacement.
Parkinson’s disease patients have low levels of dopamine in their brains. Dopamine, on the other hand, cannot be administered directly since it cannot enter the brain.
After starting Parkinson’s disease medication, you may see a dramatic improvement in your symptoms. Drug advantages, on the other hand, typically decline or become less reliable with time. You can usually keep your symptoms under control.
These drugs come in a variety of forms. The most regularly used include:
- Levodopa, which replaces dopamine.
- Dopamine agonists are drugs that mimic the effects of dopamine.
- COMT inhibitors, which improve levodopa responsiveness
- MAO-B inhibitors are drugs that prevent dopamine from being broken down in the brain.
- Anticholinergics are used to aid with the tremor.
- Amantadine is a drug used to treat persons who have irregular movements (known as dyskinesia)
Some patients may benefit from deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery to minimize tremors and wiggling motions in the body.
DBS is a procedure in which surgeons place electrodes in a specific part of the brain that controls movement. The electrodes are attached to a generator that is implanted near your collarbone in your chest and transmits electrical pulses to your brain, potentially alleviating Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Most of the time, you will be awake during the operation.
People with severe Parkinson’s disease who have unpredictable drug (levodopa) reactions are the most likely suitable for deep brain stimulation. DBS can help to moderate medication fluctuations, minimize or stop involuntary movements (dyskinesia), reduce tremors, stiffness, and enhance movement slowness.
DBS is useful for regulating irregular and variable levodopa responses, as well as dyskinesia that does not improve with drug changes. Apart from tremors, DBS isn’t effective for issues that don’t respond to levodopa medication. Even if a tremor isn’t sensitive to levodopa, DBS may be used to manage it.
However, not everyone can get deep brain stimulation. If you’re thinking about having surgery, consult your doctor first to determine whether it’s suitable for you.