Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease

Overview

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects nerve cells that produce dopamine, affecting mobility and co-ordination. When a patient has Parkinson’s disease, the cells of the substantia nigra get destroyed, resulting in reduced dopamine levels. The condition starts gradually, with slight hand tremors, stiffness or slowing of movement. The symptoms worsen with time. medications can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life in Parkinson’s disease

Signs and symptoms

Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include a decreased sense of smell, voice changes, stooped posture, constipation and small cramped handwriting. Gradually, with time, motor function problems such as tremors, stiffness, balance issues and slow movements begin. The patient may also develop a blank facial expression, speak at a low volume, decrease blinking and swallowing and reduce the swing of their arms while they walk. Severe symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include hallucinations, depression, anxiety, psychosis, difficulty sleeping and problems with attention and memory.

Causes

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but it appears to be related to both environmental and genetic factors. Some medical researchers also believe that Parkinson’s disease could be caused by a viral infection.

Risk factors

Geriatric patients are at a much higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to younger adults and children. Continuous long-term exposure to certain environmental toxins has been linked with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Men are at a higher risk of developing the condition than women.

Complications

Parkinson’s disease is often accompanied by dementia, depression and difficulty chewing, swallowing and sleeping. Parkinson’s disease is also linked with an increased frequency of constipation and bladder control disorders. The patient may also experience blood pressure fluctuations, sexual dysfunction and a decreased sense of smell.

Diagnosis

There are no specific tests to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The neurologist diagnoses the condition based on a detailed patient medical history, a review of the signs and symptoms and a physical and neurological exam. The doctor could use imaging tests and blood tests to rule our other conditions that c0uld be causing your symptoms.

Treatment

Parkinson’s disease has no cure at present, but the condition can be managed with medication. These medications supplement dopamine to compensate for the loss in natural production. The efficacy of the drugs decreases with time. Deep Brain Stimulation has also proven effective in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The therapy involves implanting electrodes in the brain, connected to a generator implanted under the skin beneath the collarbone to transmit electrical signals to the brain. Deep Brain Stimulation therapy is usually recommended to patients with advanced stage Parkinson’s disease.

Prevention

As the cause of Parkinson’s disease is still undetermined, it is difficult to define preventive strategies. Some studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise could help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

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