Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurological disorders which prevails most in the elderly age group. It is a condition in which a patient holds limited or no control over his movements and body balance. It occurs and progresses with ageing, but in rare cases, it is also witnessed among children and teenagers as well. Also, men are more prone to Parkinson’s disease than women, says Dr Rajul Aggrawal, senior consultant, neurologist, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi who further discusses Parkinson’s disease in detail.
As a disease of the central nervous system characterised by difficulty in movements, Parkinson’s has four main symptoms, namely tremors, stiffness, postural instabilities, and slowness of movements. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain as a result of which brain neurons are unable to produce dopamine. When dopamine reduces in the brain, it causes the emergence of symptoms of Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is a progressive disease though the rate of deterioration may vary in different individuals.
Though causes of Parkinson’s are mainly unknown several factors may appear to play a role.
*Genetic Factors: Researchers have identified several genes responsible for Parkinson’s but these are rare except in cases where several family members are affected by Parkinson’s disease.
*Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease but the risk is relatively less.
*Men are 50 per cent more likely to be affected by Parkinson’s than women.
*Most people develop Parkinson’s after 60 years of age. Though 5 to 10 per cent can develop Parkinson’s before the age of 50 years. This condition is called early-onset disease which is often but not always inherited.
*Parkinson’s patients may also experience other symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing, chewing, speaking, urinary problems, constipation, skin problems, depression, emotional changes and sleep disruption. They may occur much before the appearance of cardinal motor symptoms.
Early Parkinson’s symptoms are subtle and occur gradually. They may be taken as signs of normal ageing, for example, mild tremors, difficulty in getting up from a chair, spending more time in the bathroom, speaking softly, writing becoming small, slow and cramped, lack of facial expressions, stiffness in shoulder joints and knee joints. People also develop a Parkinson’s gait that includes a tendency to lean forward, small quick steps as if hurrying forward, reduced swing of arms. They also may have trouble initiating or continuing movements.
Usually, Parkinson’s starts on one side of the body, in either upper or lower limb and gradually progresses to the other limbs.
Currently, no blood laboratory or radiological tests are available to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. It is a clinical diagnosis based on history and examination findings. Neurologists may do certain tasks to rule out secondary causes of Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s-like symptoms may be found in other degenerative diseases and neurologists would be able to differentiate these from Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s patients should be more cautious about their disease, mentioned Dr Aggarwal.
*Take medicines regularly and manage other daily tasks accordingly.
*Never hesitate to seek other’s help and cooperation in need.
*Keep sharing about your situation with loved ones and ask for help or suggestions to get certain work done if they are not available. Do not to hesitate and feel low about your condition.
*Generally our senior citizens need extra care in this regard. Keep a check on the development of the physical symptoms and seek doctor’s suggestion. Take good care of elderly family members.
*Never miss any prescribed medicine suggested by the doctor. Patients may also be on therapies, hence go for them at scheduled times.
*Keep a positive outlook toward life and manage daily tasks accordingly. Most of all, refrain from taking stress as it is only going to add to the problems.
*Stay away from habits like smoking, alcohol intake, etc.
*Lead a healthy lifestyle, keep the nutrition value high, and go for timely check-ups.