Most people go through tremors or stiffness in the arms and legs at some other time in their lives. It could be due to feeling anxious about something or lifting something heavy. But what happens when these tremors become symptoms and lead to a neurological disorder?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder affecting movement, often causing tremors. Smooth bodily movements are possible due to a substance called dopamine. Dopamine is produced in the brain in the substantia nigra.
In Parkinson’s disorder, the cells of the substantia nigra begin to die, leading to a drop in dopamine levels. When these levels reduce to 60 to 80 percent, the symptoms start to show. Parkinson’s disease hallucinations, delusion, and confusion show up usually in the advanced stages.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease begin to show even before the motor problems develop. Such signs include
- Anosmia (decline in the ability to smell)
- Change in voice
- Stooped posture
- Cramped handwriting
Major motor problems are:
- Slow movements
- Stiffness in legs, trunk, or arms
- Imbalance and tendency to fall
Secondary symptoms and other associated symptoms
- Blank facial expression
- Being stuck while walking
- Low volume speech
- Reduction in blinking or swallowing
- Tendency to fall backward
- Reduction in arm swinging while walking
- Tendency to take shuffling steps
- Flaky white scales on oil parts of the skin
- Increased risk of melanoma
- Sleep disturbance, movements during sleep, talking and vivid dreams.
- Problems with attention and memory
Early signs often go unnoticed although the body may try to alert you about the irregularities in the body movement before the difficulties begin, you may not be able to understand the symptoms.
Parkinson’s Disease Causes
The exact cause of Parkinson’s is not known, it can either be due to genetics or environmental components. Some scientists suggest it could be due to a virus. Low levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain have been linked to Parkinson’s disease, Lewy bodies which is an abnormal protein has also been found in the brain of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Below is the list of those who are more likely to develop the disease.
- Sex- Men are 1½ more likely to develop this disease than women.
- Race- As per research, Parkinson’s is more likely to develop in white people than in black or Asians.
- Age- Parkinson’s generally appears between the ages of 50-60 years. It occurs before 40 in about four percent of people.
- Family History- People with a family history of Parkinson’s disease are more likely to develop the condition
- Toxins- exposure to a few kinds of toxins increases the risk.
- Head injury- People who have had a head injury are more likely to develop Parkinson’s condition.
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
The treatment of Parkinson’s disease depends on medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. Adequate exercise and a balanced diet are essential approaches to the treatment. Certain therapies also play a major role such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy can improve communication.
Parkinson’s disease surgery
For people who do not respond to treatment in both medications and therapies, surgical interventions are required. There are two primary kinds of surgeries that are used to treat Parkinson’s. Deep Brain Stimulation requires implants of electrodes in specific areas of the brain by the surgeon. The second one is Pump-delivered therapy, in which the doctor performs surgery to put a pump near the small intestine.
Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
There is no specific testing to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis is done on the basis of a history of health, physical and neurological exam, and review of signs and symptoms. Imaging such as an MRI scan is used to rule out other conditions, this may not confirm the disease, but it can help in ruling out other diseases and provide support in the doctor’s diagnosis.
Parkinson’s Diseases Stages
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease meaning the symptoms worsen over time. It can be distinguished into 5 stages, which helps the doctors understand better the advanced stages of the condition.
Stage 1- Parkinson’s disease is so mild that the symptoms that you may experience are unnoticeable, this may not interfere with the daily activity of life and is often isolated to one side of the body.
Stage 2- The shift or progression from stage 1 to stage 2 takes months or years and the experience is different for each person. The symptoms may include tremors, muscle stiffness, and changes in facial expressions, Symptoms may develop on both sides of the body and can interfere with daily tasks.
Stage 3- By this middle stage new symptoms start to appear that may be noticeable, such as slow movements, the imbalance becomes significant resulting in a rise in the tendency to fall but still the person may not be in complete need of assistance.
Stage 4- At this stage, the person may feel great difficulty in standing or walking and may require assistance. The movements can become massively slow and living on your own can be dangerous.
Stage 5- This is the most advanced stage of the condition, severe symptoms can make constant assistance necessary. It may be difficult to stand and the person may experience hallucinations, confusion, and delusion.
Parkinson’s may be a serious condition but it’s not life-threatening although the complications may result in some life-threatening conditions, earlier diagnosis and treatment can help in the prevention of the progression of the disease. Bansal Hospital Bhopal has an experienced neurology department that caters to all your neurological needs by providing appropriate diagnosis and treatment.