Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive central nervous system disorder that affects movement; the most common being tremors. It also causes stiffness of muscles and slowing of muscle movements. As mentioned, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder and hence the condition is worsened overtime. Most of the difficulties in Parkinson’s disease is caused due to loss of neurons that produce dopamine. Dopamine acts as a chemical messenger that sends impulses from parts of the brain to the nervous system that controls and coordinates body movements. When dopamine is not produced sufficiently it affects normal brain activity and causes impaired movements and other symptoms of the disease.
- Loss of nerve cells that produce dopamine
- Environmental factors such as effect of industrial pollution
- Presence of lewy bodies (clumps of certain protein in the brain)
- Slowed movements (Bradykinesia)
- Changes in handwriting (micrographia where the letter size gets smaller and crowded)
- Difficulty in moving around or walking
- Speech changes (Soft, slurred, monotonous)
- Difficulty in chewing and swallowing
- Sleep disorders
- Masked face (expression less or constant expression)
- Dizziness or fainting
- Impaired posture (stooping, balance problems)
- Sexual dysfunction (decrease in sexual desire)
Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed mostly through
- Review of the signs and symptoms
- Medical history
- Neurological examination
- Physical examination
- No specific test exists in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The neurologist may suggest a DaTscan (Dopamine Transporter Scan).
As the actual cause of Parkinson’s disease is still a mystery a completely accepted preventive measure cannot be mentioned. However, the following can help in prevention:
- Healthy lifestyle and diet which includes intake of fresh food, raw vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3
- Regular aerobic exercise.
Treatment for Parkinson’s disease includes lifestyle changes, medications and surgical procedures.
- Lifestyle changes include healthy diet and healthy living with regular exercise to increase muscle strength, flexibility and balance.
- Medications include drugs to manage difficulties in movements and that help in balancing dopamine levels. These have to be taken as prescribed by the neurologist.
- Surgical procedure mainly includes Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in which the surgeon places electrodes in specific parts of the brain. The electrodes send electrical impulses to the brain and may help in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
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