Parkinson’s Disease – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a movement disorder i.e. it affects the way you move. This disease happens when certain cells in the brain reduce producing important neurotransmitter Dopamine. Dopamine plays an important role in moving muscles by giving commands to the motor part of the brain. Also, this chemical is crucial for regulating body and emotions.In PD , these dopamine-producing nerve cells break down causing the trouble in a voluntary movement. Click To Tweet
It is a neurodegenerative brain disorder and progresses slowly in most people. For many people it takes years to develop symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. But because of its progressive nature, it worsens over the time making daily living difficult for the patient. Although PD is not fatal in nature, it makes difficult for the patient to do simple day to day activities like lifting a coffee cup, walking etc.
Most of the scientists believe that some genes and the exposure to certain chemicals from the environment are responsible for this disease.
How will I know that I am suffering from Parkinson’s disease?
It is very difficult to diagnose PD by doing any pathological test or CT or MRI scan as well .
Doctors rely for diagnosis on some observable symptoms in patients. Patients usually start to have such symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60. But in some cases, these become apparent earlier.
These symptoms can be listed as follows-
Early Non-Motor Symptoms-These symptoms may precede actual movement disturbance by several years
Loss of sense of smell lesser sensitivity to odours (hyposmia)
Sleep disorders (lack of or excessive sleep)
Constipation and Early satiety (a feeling of fullness after eating small amounts)
There are typical patterns of progression in Parkinson’s disease that are defined in five stages. These stages and their respective symptoms are as follows.
Stage 1: Tremor is the peculiar symptom of PD. It often starts with just one arm or leg or on only one side of the body. Tremor at this stage generally does not interfere with day to day activities. Very slight changes occur in posture, walking and facial expressions which are noticed by friends and family members.
Note that not everyone with a tremor has Parkinson’s disease.
Stage 2: In this stage, both sides of the body start showing tremors along with rigidity affecting the movements. Difficulty in walking and poor posture may become apparent. Though symptoms in this stage are mild, completing simple day-to-day tasks become more difficult and may take longer.
Stage 3: In this mid-stage patient starts feeling a loss of balance accompanied by slowness of movements. This stage is marked by frequent falls and significantly impair the day to day activities like eating and dressing.
Stage 4: At this stage, muscle control weakens in such a manner that though a patient can stand without assistance, the movement may require a walker. This stage PD makes patient dependent on the others to do the daily activities.
Stage 5: This is a most severe stage as it becomes impossible for the patient to stand or walk due to stiffness in legs. A patient may get confined to a wheelchair or become bedridden and continuous nursing assistance is required to conduct daily tasks. It may lead to problems like trouble swallowing or constipation
Apart from the reduced movement other non motor symptoms become apparent in Parkinson’s patient like hallucinations and delusions, blank expression, trouble in speaking, loss in mental skills (dementia), mood disorders (depression, anxiety and irritability), lightheadedness, fatigue, vision problems, excessive sweating, weight loss or weight gain etc
How is Parkinson’s disease treated?
Till date, there is no standard treatment available for the Parkinson’s disease. Doctors prescribe medication and surgical procedure based on the severity of the symptoms.
As it is mentioned earlier PD is characterized by lack of dopamine. So in the initial phase, doctors may recommend medicines which increase the level of dopamine in the brain. These medicines suppress the symptoms of PD especially tremor, up to some extent.
But in advanced stage PD patient stops responding to medications and symptoms of the disease become severe. For such drug-resistant PD patients, a special surgical procedure called as Vim Thalamotomy is performed.
In this procedure selected portion of the thalamus which is a part of the brain producing tremors, rigidity is surgically destroyed (ablated). This is called VIM Thalamotomy.
Electrodes can also be inserted in certain parts of the brain (Subthalamic Nucleus STN) and stimulation of this can be done using a battery implanted in the patient who can activate it himself on demand. This is called DBS or Deep Brain Stimulation
Other supplementary treatments for PD include lifestyle modifications like getting more rest and more exercise.WIINS has treated successfully by surgery over 350 patients for Parkinson’s Disease gifting them a tremor-free life Click To Tweet