What is the Parkinson’s Disease? What are the symptoms? Are there any treatments or medications available to treat this disease? You will be learning about all these crucial things in this post compiling a comprehensive explanation of Parkinson’s Disease.
What is the Parkinson’s disease? Most people, excluding the medical fraternity, do not know about this illness. Some of you have never even heard about it. But this doesn’t indicate the rarity of the disease. Most of you people would be having at least one person in your family, neighborhood, or society affected by this chronic disease. This is because the disease is common. As per some reliable sources, the United States alone has more than one million cases of Parkinson’s Disease. However, this figure only shows the count of those cases of Parkinson’s Disease that are reported to healthcare institutions in the country. Some Parkinson’s disease cases never get reported. One of the most prominent reasons behind this is that the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease seem to be a normal change in the human body that occurs due to aging.
What is the Parkinson’s Disease- Facts and Stats to Know
- More than 10 million individuals are affected by Parkinson’s disease in the world.
- Males and whites are more vulnerable to this disease as compared to females and people of other races.
- The disease is more common in people aged above 50. Only around 4 patients in every 100 cases of Parkinson’s disease are below the age of 50.
- The death ratio among patients with this chronic disease in the United States of America has increased by more than 60% in the past two decades.
- According to a report, around five hundred thousand people passed away due to Parkinson’s disease in America between 1999 and 2019.
- Parkinson’s disease is the fastest-growing neurological disease in the world.
- Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured but can be managed through physical therapy, rehabilitation, and counseling.
- The causes of Parkinson’s disease are unknown.
What is the Parkinson’s Disease?
What is the Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder (brain disorder) where the nerve cells in a specific part of your brain deteriorate, resulting in a wide range of motor and non-motor malfunctions. Patients may experience slowed movements, loss of control over their muscles functions, and loss of control in balancing as well. The other malfunctions patients with Parkinson’s disease may experience could be associated with senses and mental health
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and degenerative disease, mostly found among aged people. As of now, the causes could not be identified, and so the treatments and medications are also not well researched. However, it is believed that some cases of Parkinson’s disease are inherited. It happens randomly, regardless of your health. A person who seems fit and healthy can also have Parkinson’s disease.
How Does Parkinson’s Disease Affect Human Body
A healthy human brain has a nervous system comprising a certain number of neurotransmitters and billions of neurons that are responsible for communicating with each other and the cells found in other parts of the body. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that are used by neurons (nerve cells) to send and receive messages. These elements of the human brain have a significant role to control muscle movements and senses.
When Parkinson’s disease starts developing, it affects a particular area of your brain called the basal ganglia. As this specific area of your brain starts deteriorating due to the intense impact of the disease, you lose control of those muscles and senses controlled by that specific part of your brain. This happens because the nerve cells in your brain lose their optimal functionality.
Parkinson’s disease causes a significant drop in the level of dopamine (an important neurotransmitter or chemical substance associated with several body functions, including mood and movements). This chemical substance is used by neurons to send activation messages to your different body muscles to function in a certain manner. Since the level of dopamine in your brain drops a lot due to the impact of Parkinson’s illness, the neurons in your brain fail to send the signals as quickly as they used to do earlier. Consequently, patients fail to perform certain actions as fast as they used to perform earlier.
Since there are no clinically proven treatments and medications, the health of patients with Parkinson’s disease can only get worse with the passing time. Although the disease can be managed and controlled with the appropriate diet, care, and prescription medications, the suffering of sufferers is only going to increase.
What are the Possible Causes of Parkinson’s Disease?
As we have already mentioned earlier in this post, the causes of Parkinson’s Disease are unknown. However, some factors recognized by medical researchers could be the possible causes.
Exposure to Pesticides
Pesticides are generally used by farmers to protect their harvest from various species of organisms. They include many different chemicals that are quite harmful to humans. Health experts state that exposure to pesticides can cause both short-term and long-term health problems. You might experience stinging eyes, nausea, diarrhea, blindness, and even death. Apart from this, exposure to pesticides also has a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Although there is no evidence to support this fact, health experts strongly believe that people having long or frequent exposure to pesticides are vulnerable to Parkinson’s disease.
Role of Genetic Mutation in the Development of Parkinson’s Disease
Genetic mutations are considered the most significant causes of Parkinson’s disease by health experts. But it is not clearly understood how. Several genes that have a significant role in the development of Parkinson’s disease are confirmed by researchers. Some of those include Glucocerebrosidase (GBA), PODXL, CHCHD2, PARK2 (parkin), RAB39B, RIC3, UCHL1, PARK6, TMEM230, LRRK2 (leucine-rich repeat kinase 2), and SNCA.
Some health experts also believe that genetics combined with some environmental factors can also be a significant cause of Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease as A Hereditary Disease
As per the studies and research conducted so far, Parkinson’s disease could be hereditary too. If any of the parents are affected by PD, the children could also be vulnerable to the disease. However, such cases are rare. The studies conducted so far show that only 10 to 15 percent of the total cases of Parkinson’s disease have a family history of PD. This means the children are not at a higher risk of developing PD if any of their parents are affected by it.
Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
A wide range of malfunctions in the body is an indication of having Parkinson’s disease. The most common signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include Loss of Smelling Ability, Tremors, Stiff Muscles, and Slowed Movements.
Since Parkinson’s disease is progressive, the symptoms increase in number and get more intense with the passing stages of the illness. Patients might not experience multiple symptoms in the initial stages. In fact, sometimes, they do not experience any symptoms for years. This is what makes it difficult for patients to identify if they are affected by PD.
Here is the complete list of signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
Loss of Smelling Ability– As the nerve cells responsible for sending activation signals to different parts of the body get dysfunctioned due to the impact of Parkinson’s disease, the messages that tend to be delivered to activate the act of smelling do not get through. As a result, patients lose their sense of smell. Loss of smelling ability is the most prominent and one of the early signs of the disease.
Tremors– Tremors are another most common and early sign of Parkinson’s disease. If you experience involuntary movements in your hands or other body parts of your body, it could be a sign that you are having Parkinson’s disease. However, tremors could also be related to other conditions.
Dizziness– Generally, dizziness is a sign of weakness, but sometimes, it could be associated with Parkinson’s disease. If you often feel dizzy while standing up for a long time or doing work, do not take it lightly. Get your medical check-up done as early as possible.
Changed Handwriting– While writing, patients with Parkinson’s disease experience tremors and shaking which spoil their original handwriting. If you notice any significant changes, especially negative ones, to your handwriting, you may be affected by Parkinson’s disease. See your doctor soon.
Stiffness in Muscles– Minor stiffness in muscles that come and go is fine, but when the stiffness in your muscles is persistent and there is no sign of improvement, it is more likely Parkinson’s disease.
Difficulty in Sleeping- Sleeping issues are very common these days. They are surely a sign of a specific health condition, but when sleeping difficulties come with many other issues that we have mentioned just above, it could be an indication of Parkinson’s disease.
Slowed and Heavy Voice- A slow voice having heaviness is another crucial symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Since Parkinson’s disease slows down the many nerve cells in your brain, the voice gets slowed and heavy.
Other crucial signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include constipation, poor posture, fainting, leaning, and changes in the face. You need to see your doctor right away whenever you notice these symptoms in your body. Although there is no cure to this, your illness can be controlled and managed with therapies and medications.
Diagnoses and Treatments
Now that you know what is the Parkinson’s disease, knowing the possible diagnosis, medications, and treatments is crucial. Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is quite challenging. Some lab tests, like blood tests, genetic testing, CT scan, and MRIs are used to diagnose the illness. However, these tests are not necessary. It depends on the condition of the patient. Doctors also use the medical history of the patient to recognize the disease.
There is no clinically proven treatment for Parkinson’s disease and so the disease is not treatable. However, the symptoms of the disease that make it difficult for the patient to move quickly and perform different functions can be controlled and managed with the usage of certain medications and therapies. These therapies and medications vary from patient to patient, depending on how he/she responds to medications.
What is Parkinsonism and How It is Different From Parkinson’s Disease?
What is Parkinsonism? It is characterized by a group of symptoms caused by neurological disorders. This includes slowed body movements, tremors, stiff muscles, loss of sense of smell, etc. Parkinson’s disease is also Parkinsonism which means it comes under the umbrella term of Parkinsonism. The only difference between Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease is that Parkinson’s disease is part of Parkinsonism. It is not different.
How Does a Person Get Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease randomly happens. You can’t predict it. However, health experts believe that genetic mutations and a combination of gene mutations, and some environmental factors lead to Parkinson’s disease.
What are Usually the First Sings of Parkinson’s?
Tremors, loss of smelling ability, difficulty in getting quality sleeping, stiff muscles, and persistent constipation are some of the first signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Can Parkinson’s Disease be Fatal?
Parkinson’s disease is not as fatal as stroke, heart attack, and cancer, but it eventually ends up causing the loss of life of the patient.
How Long Can You Live With Parkinson’s?
Patients with Parkinson’s disease can live up to 3 decades after the diagnosis, depending on their health condition and how they respond to medications and therapies given to them.
Does Parkinson’s Run in Families?
Parkinson’s disease can run in families, but such cases are rare. Only 10 to 15 percent of total cases of Parkinson’s disease have a family history of this disease.
How Long Can You Have Parkinson’s Without Knowing?
Since the symptoms are not much excessive initially, you may not know that you have Parkinson’s even 10 years after getting affected.
Is Parkinson’s Painful?
Parkinson’s could be painful, especially in the later stages when the symptoms get more expressive and intense.
What is Parkinson’s Disease Life Expectancy?
Patients can live up to 2-3 decades with Parkinson’s disease. However, this completely depends on how the patient’s body is responding to medications.
How to Prevent Parkinson’s Disease?
Since the cause of Parkinson’s disease is not clearly understood, it is not possible to prevent Parkinson’s disease. It can only be managed with certain medications after diagnosis.
Who is More Likely to Get Parkinson’s?
People aged above 60 are more likely to get affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Is Parkinson’s Disease Hereditary?
Only 10 to 15 percent of a patient with Parkinson’s disease has a family history of Parkinson’s which means this chronic disease could be hereditary but it is rare.
What is Parkinsonian?
Parkinsonian is a term used to describe anything related to Parkinson’s disease, such as its symptoms.
My name is Vihan Kumar (Virendra Kumar). I am a health writer, have been active in this domain for 4 years. My health writing encompasses research, studies, and facts-based information that are true as per medical science. I enjoy writing on health domain and my purpose always is to educate, inform, and aware people with my comprehensive health guides.