Parkinson's Disease - Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Parkinson''s disease builds up slowly, often starting with a barely visible tremor in just one hand Even though a tremor is most commonly associated with Parkinson''s disease, it normally ends up in the slowing and freezing of body movementsParkinson''s disease builds up slowly, often starting with a barely visible tremor in just one hand. Even though a tremor is most commonly associated with Parkinson''s disease, it normally ends up in the slowing and freezing of body movements. It is a neurological disorder that causes muscle tremor, weakness and stiffness.
The characteristic signs are; trembling, rigid posture, and slow movement. Speech also often becomes slurred and mumbled, and thus difficult to follow. The patient might have little or no expression on the face or might not even swing the arms at all while walking, and could also have an unbalanced walk. Its effects worsen as the disease progresses.
Unfortunately there is no cure yet for this disease, although many medicines can help treat and ease the symptoms, and in some cases these treatments might entail a surgical procedure.
Parkinson''s disease is caused by the degeneration of or damage to the nerve cells in the brain. Many of the symptoms of this disease are because of lack of a chemical, called dopamine, in the brain, which acts as a messenger. This happens when particular brain cells that create dopamine, deteriorate or die. But even after a lot of careful research by scientists, it still isn''t still clear as to what really triggers the drop in the production of dopamine. It is believed that probably genetic transmutations and/or environmental pollutants could have a hand in leading to Parkinson''s disease.
Parkinson''s disease has different symptomatic effects from person to person. These symptoms, at the advent of the disease, may be slight and can be unseen for months or even years. These signs usually start on one side of the body and generally remain the worst on that side of the body itself. Parkinson''s signs and symptoms may consist of the following:
1- A person might keep shaking, which come across as tremors, which usually start off in a hand. These tremors tend to spread to the entire arm, or just to the neck region, when the head shakes continuously, or also the legs, when the gait of the person completely changes, making it unbalanced and awkward.
2- A person might move extremely slowly, compared to the normal speed of movement. The ability to make voluntary movement could diminish. This could make life''s tasks and jobs time consuming and complicated. The steps taken during a walk might become short and the feet might scuff. The feet may also freeze up, making it very tough to take a step.
3- The muscles could get rigid and stiff, in the limbs and also the neck. This rigidity could be very severe amounting to a lot of pain, further limiting any kind of movements.
4- Posture may become stooped and an imbalance in standing or walking or even sitting postures can also be seen in the latter stages of the disease.
5- Involuntary automatic movements such as blinking, smiling, moving arms while walking, and other unconscious movements etc., are slowly lost. Some people may stare in a fixative manner, with expressionless faces and eyes that don''t blink. Some may not gesture and may seem lifeless.
6- There are marked changes in speech delivery, making it very soft and even inaudible, or fast and/or in monotone, even repeating words, or dragging them, or hesitation before speaking.
7-Later on as the disease progresses, some people start having problems with memory and clarity of thoughts.
Various treatments for example, medications such as levodopa, Dopamine agonists, MAO B inhibitors, Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, etc. are administered to either create dopamine, or something dopamine-like, or help in its natural generation and preserve the existing dopamine secreted. Some drugs also reduce tremors in the body parts and also calm the mind.
Physical therapy also helps for general good health and better mobility. Some surgeries might also be done such as Deep brain stimulation, which is most common in order to treat the disease. It entails inserting an electrode deep within the parts of the brain that control motor-movements. It is used for patients at an advanced stage of the disease. This kind of treatment has a lot of risks involved, as it is intrusive and uses the implanting of foreign objects, so the patient''s guardians and if possible the patient, must think rationally before opting for this treatment.