What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a gradual progressive nervous system disorder that leads to shaking, difficulty with walking, stiffness, balance and coordination. The symptoms start very simplistically with something as trivial as slight trembling in one hand, however the same increases as days go by. Starting from a negligible symptom, Parkinson’s disease cause permanent stiffness or slowing of regular movement.

At the early Parkinson’s disease symptoms, the normal speech of a person can go softer or more broken than usual. There is no distinctive Parkinson’s disease cure. Instead, once someone is affected with this condition, the symptoms are treated with different medications to slow down the aggravation.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease symptoms can largely vary from person to person. At the starting, most of the symptoms are mostly unnoticed. Generally, the symptoms start from one side of the body and aggravate to the other side. Here are few of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

Shaking or Tremor: A patient most commonly starts to feel shaky or trembling in his or her hands, fingers or limbs. First, the condition mostly occurs when moving. With time, this condition starts occurring when the patient is in rest as well.

Slowed movement: With the permanent slowed movement of the patient, everyday tasks like moving, responding or doing simple daily tasks become difficult and time-consuming. With aggravation, even getting up from the chair or dragging the feet for walking becomes a tough job.

Impaired posture and balance: Balancing the body posture can be a great point of difficulty for Parkinson’s disease patients. Changing posture can seem almost impossible at the advanced stages.

Rigid muscles:Painful muscle stiffness can happen at any part of the body. This condition can limit the range of motion to a great extend.

Loss of automatic movements: Automatic movements like smiling, blinking and swinging of arms while walking are heavily disrupted.

Changes in speech: Before the patient starts talking, his or her voice either drops or becomes rough. The speech generally loses the depth and fluctuation and become flatter.

Writing changes: Generally, the patient feels difficulty in writing and the handwriting appears smaller.

Causes of Parkinson’s disease

In Parkinson’s disease, Neurons gradually break down or die. In a healthy brain, Neurons produce dopamine, a chemical messenger.  When the dopamine level in the brain decreases, the brain starts to behave weirdly.

Though the definitive cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, here are few most plausible factors:

Genes: There are research reports that show Parkinson’s disease originates from specific genetic mutations. But, this condition is pretty rare.

Environmental triggers: Multiple environmental factors or exposure to certain toxins can result in Parkinson’s disease. Chance of happening this is also quite less as well.

When the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease are examined, many changes have been noted. But, scientists are not particularly sure why these changes happen. The changes include:

Lewy bodies: Patients of Parkinson’s disease are found with clumps with some microscopic substances in the blood cells. These substances are named Lewy bodies. Though no concrete evidence is found, scientists believe that these substances have a direct impact on the patient’s performance.

Alpha-synuclein within Lewy bodies: The presence of Alpha-synuclein, a natural and widespread protein in all Lewy bodies do not let the cells to break down.

Risk factors of Parkinson’s disease

Though the definite risk factors are still not established, doctors hold few factors responsible:

Age: People of 60 years of age and more generally experience Parkinson’s disease and young people very rarely develop this condition.

Sex: Though researchers have still not been able to figure out the scientific reason; men affected with Parkinson’s disease are more in number than women.

Complications with Parkinson’s disease

Multiple complications often come with Parkinson’s disease but in most of the cases, these complications are treatable.

Difficulty in thinking: Dementia, a social ability symptom that messes with daily activity is one of the most common complications. This symptom generally comes at the advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease. Generally, medications cannot help difficulty thinking to a great extent at this moment.

Mood swings and depression: Depression is a complication that often starts from the early stages of Parkinson’s and remains throughout the lifetime. Generally, depression is treatable to some extent.

Along with depression, all the other human emotions like anger, fear, love, anxiety and loss of motivation are experienced at a high level.

Problem while eating: Especially at the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, patients face moderate to serious problems in chewing foods. As the swallowing process also gets slower, the saliva starts to accumulate in the mouth. Also, as the facial muscles get affected with the slowed-down brain, this chronic condition can lead to poor nutrition and even chocking. This problem also leads to constipation.

Sleep Disorder: People with Parkinson’s disease keep waking up throughout the night; sometimes with inexplicable anxiety as well. This symptom results in sleepiness throughout the day. Some people have reported rapid eye movement while trying to sleep. Generally, all the symptoms are well treatable with medications.

Some medical researchers have proved that drinking caffeine significantly helps in avoiding Parkinson’s disease.

Content Reviewed By: Dr.Kamal Verma