Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder of the brain. The disease progressively worsens over time and, consequently, the symptoms manifest in greater severity. Symptoms such as stiffness and imbalance are accompanied by psychiatric disturbances that serve to undermine the cognitive ability of the patient. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, many treatment options are available. These treatment options include medication, surgery, and rehabilitation care – all of which extend the life and provide relief for the patient in question. Much research continues to be performed to determine the cause of this condition as therein will lay the key to any prospective cure.
Parkinson’s Disease Drugs
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
The typical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease – known as motor symptoms – include rigidity, tremor, postural difficulties, and speech alterations. Such symptoms can arrive relatively early in the disease, while becoming less severe but constant as the disease progresses.
Alongside the motor symptoms are the autonomic symptoms. This means that patients lose the ability to voluntarily control certain functions of their body – including the ability to urinate, blink, or create facial gestures. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as anxiety, depression, impaired thinking and attention, invariably take over.
The final stages of the disease see the complete culmination of these symptoms, ultimately leading to death.
- Posture issues
- Altered speech
- Changes in urination, blinking, and facial gestures
- Impaired thinking
- Changes in attention span
Parkinson’s Disease Causes
Its is said that Parkinson’s Disease results from the death of certain neurons in the brain. The symptoms of Parkinson’s form from the deceased amount of dopamine in the brain due to missing neurons that act as chemical messengers.
Possible causes of Parkinson’s Disease
- However, the vast majority of cases of involving depleted neuron levels are of unknown origin. However, a sizable proportion, as much as 15%, is genetically linked.
- Research is still ongoing about the direct causes and risks for this disease, and much speculation resides around potential environmental factors. For instance, it has been shown that those living rurally have a higher chance of contracting Parkinson’s disease than those who inhabit urban dwellings.
- It’s thought that pesticides carry this increased risk, which often leak into rural water supplies. Once developed, Parkinson’s disease progresses through the formation of protein plaques in the brain known as Lewy bodies, which destroy the functionality of many parts of the brain.
Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
Typically, Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed through an evaluation with a specialist doctor known as a neurologist. They will examine the patient for the archetypal signs and symptoms of this condition while also ruling out the presence of similar conditions such as Huntington’s disease.
No blood test currently exists for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, thus the diagnosis will always come from a trained neurologist. The specialist may also prescribe a drug called carbidopa-levodopa. If the patient positively responds to this drug, it may be indicative of the presence of Parkinson’s disease. Along with an analysis of previous and existing medical history, the specialist will be able to determine the presence of this disease.
- Neurologist’s examination
- Results from taking Carbidopa-levodopa
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
Many of the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are produced by low levels of dopamine in the brain. Because of this, a physician or neurologist may prescribe one of the following treatments.
- By taking the drug L-DOPA, the patient’s brain will be re-supplied with dopamine, thus ameliorating many symptoms associated with movement and control. This is the standard therapy for patients with this disease.
- Alongside this, patients may also be prescribed other drugs – such as bromocriptine and pergolide.
- These drugs, as before, serve to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Besides medication, the patient will also be managed through rehabilitative means – such as exercise, physiotherapy, breathing techniques, and speech therapy.
- In the final stages of the condition, standard palliative care strategies will be applied.