Parkinson’s Disease Overview

January 3, 2022

Parkinson's disease causes the slow, long-term degeneration of the central nervous system, which is vital to maintaining the motor system's normal function. As the symptoms begin, a Parkinson's patient will slowly lose control over what movements are being made and begin to have more difficulties with movements as simple as walking. Unfortunately, not a lot of information has been discovered about why Parkinson's disease occurs or what makes an individual more likely to develop it than others.

There are multiple options for Parkinson's disease treatment. Parkinson's medications include options levodopa and dopamine-mimicking meds. Many patients also require deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson's disease. Natural remedies for Parkinson's disease are also common. Patients need to get regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Walking canes can help with balance and prevent falls due to this condition. Of course, Parkinson's disease support groups are crucial too.

Symptoms Of Parkinson's Disease

Not everyone has the same experience when it comes to dealing with Parkinson's disease. Symptoms may progress at different rates for different patients. Additionally, the order in which they occur can easily vary. The most common symptom, and the one Parkinson's patients and their families typically notice first, is the development of tremors. Tremors due to Parkinson's disease usually start in one limb or on one side of the body, then slowly spread. They are often triggered by stress or emotional experiences and lessen when the body is relaxed.

Other Symptoms

Parkinson's disease's other common symptoms are tired or stiff muscles, difficulty with basic movements, speech issues, and trouble taking steps. These symptoms limit a patient's ability to engage in day-to-day activities fully. Getting out of chairs, switching positions in bed, and walking at a reasonable pace are just some of the many things made much more challenging when Parkinson's disease comes into play. An individual with this disease may also experience a sudden and complete inability to move for brief periods.

What Causes Parkinson's Disease?

Little is known about what causes Parkinson's disease, but researchers have noted a few consistencies throughout their studies. Certain genes appear to play a role in cases where the individual diagnosed has relatives with the same condition. This suggests there may be some connection between genetics and Parkinson's disease. An individual's environment may also play a role in the potential development of Parkinson's disease, as well as age, gender, and exposure to certain toxins. Men over sixty years old are the most likely to develop this condition.

What Are The Treatments?

While no cure for Parkinson's disease exists yet, great bounds have been made in treating it. Lifestyle changes, medications, and surgeries are all ways in which doctors attempt to ease the patient's symptoms. Every medication works differently and will not affect everyone the same way. Discovering what works best for each specific case is essential in finding comfort. On top of medication, eating healthy, exercising, and remaining socially involved can offer many benefits as far as finding some relief and remaining positive. Patients working with an occupational therapist is a great option to help them master daily activities that may have become more difficult, such as eating or writing.

Prevention Of Parkinson's Disease

Knowing what could prevent Parkinson's disease from forming is difficult. This id because little information is known about what truly causes it to develop in the first place. Figuring out appropriate ways to cope with the disease is vital in managing physical and mental health. It will help patients maintain a normal lifestyle. Parkinson's disease can trigger a lot of frustration and anger as they lose more control over their body. Thus, turning to friends and family for support is always a good option. Otherwise, there are various support groups and counseling options for those struggling.

Issues With Swallowing

Issues with swallowing are often called dysphagia. They can occur at any point during the progression of Parkinson's disease. Patients may have trouble swallowing certain liquids or foods or always clear their throats or cough after they eat or drink. They may also feel like food is becoming stuck in their throats. As Parkinson's disease progresses, these symptoms may become more severe and pronounced. One of the dangers is that food or liquid will go down the airway and become lodged in the lungs. This leads to aspiration pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death for individuals with Parkinson's disease.

Issues With Urination

A few different issues with urination can occur over the course of Parkinson's disease. One is urinary incontinence, which causes affected individuals to be unable to hold their urine. Another is bladder dysfunction, which can lead to frequent urination and a feeling of an urgent need to urinate. These two problems may sometimes occur together. Urination issues have a significant impact on the quality of life of Parkinson's patients. Research shows that around twenty-seven to thirty-nine percent of individuals with Parkinson's disease experience some difficulty with urination. However, total incontinence only occurs in approximately fifteen percent of patients. It is more common for bladder problems to develop in Parkinson's later stages. The most common problem patients report is frequently and urgently needing to urinate even if their bladder is not full.

Cognitive Problems

Cognitive problems commonly occur with Parkinson's disease, though not every patient experiences them. Cognitive issues are problems related to thinking and memory. The severity of the issues varies widely from case to case. With more mild symptoms, the condition is called 'mild cognitive impairment.' However, more severe symptoms that impact everyday life are called dementia. Thinking and memory are complicated areas with dozens of unique aspects. The most commonly reported difficulties are with concentrating and paying attention, problem-solving, multitasking, and short-term memory. The awareness of where objects are in relation to the patient is also impacted. Some Parkinson's disease medications can increase confusion as one of their side effects. If individuals notice cognitive issues in themselves or a loved one with Parkinson's disease, it is essential to talk to a doctor to determine the cause and treatment options.

Dysfunction In Sense Of Smell

Dysfunction in the sense of smell commonly occurs with Parkinson's disease, though researchers are unsure why this is the case. Patients may begin losing their sense of smell long before they develop other Parkinson's disease symptoms. Some studies indicate that smell loss can be used to show individuals at a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease. One theory on why Parkinson's disease may cause smell loss is that the degenerative process might start in both the gut and olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is the portion of the brain responsible for controlling the individual's ability to smell things. Since smell loss tends to occur slowly over time, many patients may not notice they have scent-related dysfunction until they are tested.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are especially common in Parkinson's disease patients. In one study, researchers found that the average individual with Parkinson's disease got only a little more than five hours of sleep each night. Most sleep researchers recommend at least eight hours of sleep nightly. Also, the average Parkinson's disease patient woke up twice as often throughout the night as similarly-aged adults without the disease. There are several reasons behind the decreased sleep. One is sleep apnea, which causes an affected individual to stop breathing temporarily during the night. Also commonly reported is insomnia, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. Some Parkinson's patients wake up frequently, which disrupts the quality of sleep. Urinary issues can also impact sleep when individuals have to get up multiple times to urinate during the night. Some patients report vivid nightmares and dreams accompanied by physical movement because the brain is not sending signals to stay still during REM sleep. Finally, cognitive and mental issues related to Parkinson's disease, such as confusion, hallucinations, and delusions, can play a role in poor sleeping.

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