What is Parkinson’s disease and how is it treated?

Parkinson’s disease is a disease caused by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cellsDopamine is one of the most basic substances that provide communication between neurons in our brain and which is responsible for our body movements. In the damage of the cells in the substantia nigra, the synthesis and release of the dopamine is insufficient. This causes slowing of movements, stiffness in the muscles and tremors while resting. This brain disease due to dopamine deficiency is called Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s disease is mostly seen after 40 years of age.  The incidence in men is slightly higher than in women. If you have people with Parkinson’s disease in your family, you are less likely have Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, that is, the symptoms continue to increase over time. The indications differ from person to person. Tilting of hands, arms, legs, jaws and face; slowness of motion; stiffness in legs and body, postural instability or impaired balance are the primary indications of Parkinson’s disease.  Sometimes just one distinctive tremor occurs and continues with slowness in movements. Within years, decline of the facial mimic movements and sleep disorders can be seen. It is not possible to know in advance who will have a slow progression of Parkinson’s disease. The severity of the symptoms is different in each patient.

Shivering or shaking usually starts with your hand or fingers, usually on the limb. One characteristic of Parkinson’s disease is the tremor of your hand at rest. Parkinson’s disease causes your movement to slow down and prevent you even by making simple tasks. As you walk, your steps may be shortened or difficult to get out of the stairs. Muscle stiffness can occur in your body. Muscle stiffness may limit your range of motion and may cause pain. Posture and balance problems are also the most seen symptoms. There may be balance problems as a consequence of Parkinson’s disease. In Parkinson’s disease, your ability to perform unconscious movements such as smile or shaking your arms while walking may be lessened. You may experience speaking problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease. Writing may be harder.

As your illness progresses you may experience cognitive problems and thinking difficulties. People with Parkinson’s disease may experience depression. Having depression treatment can also help you to overcome other difficulties in Parkinson’s disease. You may also have other emotional problems such as fear, anxiety, or loss of motivation.

Swallowing problem is another effect of Parkinson’s disease.  As trying to swallow, saliva can accumulate in your mouth and lead to saliva problems. People with Parkinson’s disease can often have sleep problems, such as waking up frequently during the night or falling asleep during the day. Bladder problems and constipation problems are the other side effects of this illness.

Unfortunately, there is still no specific test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. A neurologist can diagnose Parkinson’s disease by looking at your medical history, clinical findings and physical examination. Imaging tests like MR, brain ultrasound, SPECT and PET scans are thought to be helpful to diagnose it, but in fact, they are not useful enough.

Making the patient become active, independent, and self-sufficient is the main purpose of the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. There is neither a definitive diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease nor a definitive treatment. A limited number of medicines are used in order to control the symptoms. Intelligence exercises, balance exercises and lifestyle changes can be beneficial. Speech and language therapists can help for speech disorders.


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What is Parkinson’s disease and how is it treated?

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