Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder which mean the symptoms continue and worsen over time. The vital nerve cells in the brain called neurons malfunction and die. Parkinson’s primarily effect neurons in the brain called substantia nigra and effect the primary motor functions such as tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
Researchers have discovered clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein, also known as Lewy Bodies, found in not only the mid-brain but also the brain system and olfactory bulb. The presence of Lewy Bodies explain the nonmotor symptoms that are experienced. The intestines also have dopamine cells that degenerate in Parkinson’s, this is important for the gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
- Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
- Rigid muscles or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination
- Loss of automatic movements: walking, biking, smiling or swinging
- Speech changes: You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before speaking
- Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small
- Age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older.
- Heredity. Having a close relative with Parkinson’s disease increases the chances that you’ll develop the disease. However, your risks are still small unless you have many relatives in your family with Parkinson’s disease.
- Sex. Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than are women.
- Exposure to toxins. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may put you at a slightly increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
When to see the doctor?
See your doctor if you have any of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease — not only to diagnose your condition but also to rule out other causes for your symptoms.
- Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured but life style changes as well as medication can control your symptoms.
- Carbidopa-levodopa infusion.
- Dopamine agonists.
- MAO-B inhibitors.
- Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors.