Parkinson’s disease has a profound and rapid impact on the human body, leading to various symptoms such as trembling and uncontrollable shaking. It is not just a mere illness but a complex disease. The initial signs of Parkinson’s include tremors, muscle stiffness, and a general slowness in movement. Additionally, individuals with Parkinson’s often experience difficulties in sleeping due to disruptive symptoms. The disease primarily originates from the loss of nerve cells in a specific region of the brain called substantia nigra. In this article presented by TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we aim to offer a comprehensive overview of Parkinson’s. This will encompass its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, preventive measures, and strategies for effectively managing this condition in everyday life.
If possible the non motor symptoms can start occurring up to a decade prior to any motor symptoms emerging. The first stage of Parkinson’s disease is difficulty walking, change in posture, and facial expressions occur. Although Parkinsons may not be curable there are medications that can help slow it down and improve your symptoms severely. In the early stages of Parkinsons you may have little to no facial expressions. There currently isn’t a specific test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis is made by a doctor called a neurologist who is trained in nervous system conditions. The diagnosis is based on your medical history, a vast review of your symptoms, and a neurological test and physical exam.
There may be a new test upon the diagnosis of Parkinson’s known as alpha-synuclein seed amplification assay. “In a 2023 study, researchers tested the spinal fluid of more than 1,000 people to look for clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein.(Mayo Clinic)”
The causes of Parkinson’s are genes, environmental triggers, the presence of Lewy the body, and alpha-synuclein found within Lewy bodies. Genes are what you inherit from family members so you could inherit Parkinson’s Disease from a family member. Environmental triggers could be that you were exposed to toxins and this is only a smaller risk. The presence of Lewy the body are clumps of substance specifically within the brain cells that are microscopic markers for this disease. The presence of Lewy in the body is a very important clue for doctors to detect whether someone has Parkinsons or not. “Although many substances are found within Lewy bodies, scientists believe that an important one is the natural and widespread protein called alpha-synuclein, also called a-synuclein.(Mayo Clinic)” this is found in all Lewy bodies and they are clumps forms that cells break down.
Some risk factors are age, heredity, sex, and exposure to toxins. Age is a big factor as younger people rarely experience Parkinsons. People who are usually around 60 or older are more commonly to have early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Heredity is when someone close to you in the family the chance of you getting in further down the line is more likely. The risk is still small but is higher if there are many people in the family with this disease. Men are more likely to get Parkinson’s than women. If there is ongoing over exposure to herbicides and pesticides this may increase your chance of developing Parkinsons.
Parkinson’s disease usually has many complications or problems which may or may not have treatment available. Some complications are blood pressure changes, pain, sexual dysfunction, constipation, smell dysfunction, fatigue, chewing or eating problems. Other problems are bladder problems, swallowing problems, sleeping disorders or problems, thinking difficulties, depression and emotional changes. With your blood pressure changing it can cause you to be dizzy or light headed when you stand up too fast and that is due to your blood pressure dropping. With the pain aspect many people experience pain throughout the whole body when having Parkinson’s. Some people with Parkinson’s start to notice a decrease in sexual desires. Constipation is a big thing when it comes to Parkinsons because your digestive tract becomes slower as the disease progresses. Some people have trouble identifying certain odors or smells which are smell dysfunction. Later stages of Parkinsons affect the muscles in your mouth and jaw which can lead to choking or poor nutrition. Some may develop sleeping problems such as waking up through the night or waking up early and taking naps during the day. Some may even develop rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder which can lead to acting out dreams. But there are medications out there that can help you sleep without your sleep being disrupted. This disease may cause some unable to urinate or some to not be able to control urination. You may develop difficulty swallowing as your condition progresses. The saliva in your mouth may accumulate which could lead to drooling or slowed swallowing. In some of the very early stages some people may notice depression receiving treatment as early as possible can be the best thing when it comes to Parkinsons. It can help make some of the challenges easier on you and others around you, you may experience other emotional changes such as anxiety, fear or loss of motivation. Your medical team can prescribe you medication to help you with depression and emotional changes. People also may experience cognitive problems like dementia, and difficulty thinking. Things like this usually occur in the later stages of Parkinsons, things like this medication doesn’t usually help in this case.
There is no real way to cure Parkinson’s and the cause is unknown. “Some researchers have shown that regular aerobics exercises might reduce the risk of Parkinson’s DIsease. (Mayo Clinic)” There is therapy that can help people with Parkinsons known as levodopa which is one of the main therapies for this disease. The nerve cells use levodopa to produce dopamine to replenish the brain of the dwelling supply. People usually take levodopa along with other medications such as carbidopa. This prevents or reduces some side effects of levodopa such as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and restlessness. This reduces the levels of levodopa to improve your symptoms of Parkinson’s.
For people with Parkinson’s whose symptoms don’t respond well with medications, doctors may recommend deep brain stimulation. This is a surgical procedure where a doctor implants electrodes into a part of the brain and connects them to a small electrical device implanted into your chest. This device and the electrodes painlessly stimulate specific areas in the brain that control movement in a way that may help stop movement related to Parkinson’s symptoms. This can stimulate things such as slowness in movement, tremors, and rigidity.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific medical advice or practices endorsed by TGH Urgent Care. It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical advice. If you are currently experiencing a medical emergency, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. We recommend visiting one of our nearest walk-in clinics, and to streamline your visit, we encourage you to utilize our convenient OnmyWay system, designed to save you time in line.