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Parkinson's Disease

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. It affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine-produced by dying neurons. Dopamine is a chemical that sends messages the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s disease is progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movements. Parkinson's disease is more common in older people and usually begins around the age of 50.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease varies from person to person and they may include:
  • Trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Stiffness, slowness of movement
  • Slowness of movement
  • Difficulty in walking and gait.

Though the symptoms appear to be mild or severe or are not frequent, Parkinson’s disease has the following five stages:

  • Stage one: This is the initial stage of the disease and the symptoms appear to be mild. The symptoms include barely noticeable tremors, experience shaking in one of the limbs, poor posture, loss of balance, and abnormal facial expressions.
  • Stage two: In this second stage, the patient gets affected in both his limbs and both sides of the body. The patient usually faces problems while walking or maintaining balance and they cannot complete their physical tasks.
  • Stage three: In this stage, the symptoms become more severe. The patient looses the ability to walk straight or to stand.
  • Stage four: This stage of the disease is even more severe than the third stage. The patient can walk, but it is restricted to rigidity and slowness of the movement. At this stage, most the patients cannot complete their day-to-day tasks, and usually cannot live on their own.
  • Stage five: The final stage of Parkinson’s disease effects the patient’s physical body moments. The patient looses the ability to walk or stand and needs constant care and help.

How does Parkinson's disease occur?

The reason for occurrence of this disease is not known. However, there is evidence that Parkinson’s disease maybe inherited.

A number of environmental factors have been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's including: pesticide exposure, head injuries, and living in the country or farming. Rural environments and the drinking of well water may be risks as they are an indirect measures of exposure to pesticide. Scientists have also suggested that external or internal toxins may selectively destroy the dopaminergic neurons. Other  toxins that may be linked to Parkinson's include manganese, carbon disulfide, carbon monoxide.

It is also believed that oxidative stress can also cause Parkinson’s disease.  Oxidation is thought to cause damage to tissues, including neurons.

While it is not clear what events cause the abnormal nerve function linked to Parkinson's disease, there are certain conditions and medication that can cause Parkinson's disease-like symptoms. These include:

  • Street drugs: MPTP, a synthetic heroin contaminant, can cause severe Parkinson's disease-like symptoms.
  • Blood vessel disorders: Although rare, stroke and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.
  • Medication: Certain drugs such as antipsychotics used to treat severe paranoia and schizophrenia can cause a person to experience symptoms that resemble Parkinson's disease.
  • Shy-Drager syndrome: This is a rare degenerative condition that produces symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.

Most researchers suggest that a combination of these factors may cause the disease.

Can Parkinson’s Disease be Prevented?

To date, there is no known cure or prevention for Parkinson’s disease. But, there are many treatment options or surgical procedures or drug therapy that can reduce the effect of Parkinson’s disease.

Treatment Procedures

There is currently no treatment to cure Parkinson's disease, but medications, surgery and multidisciplinary management can provide relief from the symptoms, although none yet that actually reverse the effects of the disease.

Source: Portal Content Team



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