World Parkinson’s Day 2020 is on Saturday, 11 April 2020. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurogenerative disease that causes nerve cells (or neurons) in the area of the brain that controls movement to weaken and/or die. While healthy neurons produce a chemical called dopamine, which the brain needs a certain amount to regulate movement, weakened neurons produce lower levels of dopamine. What causes these neurons to weaken is currently unknown.
Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications and therapy helps control the symptoms. Occasionally, the doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms can be different for everyone. Early signs may be mild and go unnoticed. Here are the few signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s:
- Tremor – A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. Your hand may tremor when it’s at rest.
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia) – Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming.
- Rigid muscles – Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.
- Impaired posture and balance – Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
- Loss of automatic movements – You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
- Speech changes – You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking.
- Writing changes – It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.
One’s risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease can depend on the following factors:
- Gender – Men are 1.5 times more likely to have PD than women.
- Age – The risk of PD increases with age, although some people are diagnosed with early-onset PD before the age of 50.
- Genetics – Most cases occur in patients with no familial link to PD, but some have an inheritance pattern involving certain altered genes that could increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
- Environmental causes – Studies have shown a link between exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides – as well as metals and organic pollutants – and Parkinson’s disease.
- Head injury – A history of head injuries can increase one’s risk of developing PD.
Parkinson’s disease is often accompanied by these additional problems, which may be treatable:
- Thinking difficulties. You may experience cognitive problems (dementia) and thinking difficulties in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease.
- Depression and emotional changes. You may experience feelings of depression, emotional changes, such as fear, anxiety or loss of motivation.
- Swallowing problems. You may develop difficulties with swallowing as your condition progresses. Saliva may accumulate in your mouth due to slowed swallowing, leading to drooling.
- Chewing and eating problems. Late-stage Parkinson’s disease affects the muscles in your mouth, making chewing difficult. This can lead to choking and poor nutrition.
- Sleep problems and sleep disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease often have sleep problems, disturbed night sleep, waking up early or falling asleep during the day.
- Bladder problems. Parkinson’s disease may cause bladder problems, including being unable to control urine or having difficulty urinating.
- Constipation. Many people with Parkinson’s disease develop constipation, mainly due to a slower digestive tract.
There are currently no blood or lab tests that can be used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Neurologists make a diagnosis based on their patient’s medical history and an examination. At least two of the four following symptoms must be present over some time for a neurologist to consider Parkinson’s disease as a diagnosis:
- Shaking or tremor.
- Stiffness in arms or legs.
- Balance issues.
Facts About Parkinson’s
1. The cause is unknown and there is no cure.
What causes Parkinson’s remains largely unknown. Directly inheriting the disease is fairly rare. Only about 10 to 15 percent of all cases are thought to be genetic forms of the disease. The other 85 to 90 percent of cases are classified as sporadic (or occasional).
2. People with Parkinson’s can have a good quality life.
Regular medicines, therapy, surgical therapy and lifestyle modifications, like rest and exercise, help manage the disease.
3. No two people have the same symptoms.
The progression of symptoms is often a bit different from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease.
4. Exercise helps manage Parkinson’s symptoms.
For people with Parkinson’s, exercise is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and activities of daily living. Exercise and physical activity can improve many Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
5. People with Parkinson’s are not always angry or sad.
Many people with Parkinson’s disease experience facial masking – reduced facial expression. They look serious or depressed but many times it’s just the disease that’s causing muscles in the face to be stiff.
COVID-19 and Parkinson’s Disease
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Since most people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are in their senior years, take the below precautions to prevent COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- In absence of water use a an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- If you notice any symptoms like cough, shortness of breath or fever seek medical help.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay at home.
Keep a stock of your essential medicines and keep your medical history file with your doctor’s details handy in case it is needed in event of a hospitalization.
At Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital we provide comprehensive care from diagnosis to treatment to surgery to rehabilitation for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. If you or a loved one are suffering from Parkinson’s disease, seek expert help at our Parkinson’s Clinic. Please find below link for more details: