What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease causes a loss of the functioning of the nerve cells.  This is a progressive disease meaning it slowly gets worse.  This loss of nerve cell functioning occurs in the brain where the control of muscle movement takes place.

Some of the first signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors due to damaged nerve cells.  These tremors are more noticeable when the affected person is sitting still.  The more the Parkinson’s victim is moving the less noticeable their tremor will be.  These tremors commonly affect the extremities and the jaw.  It can also affect one side of the body more so than the other.

The other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are depression, difficulty with ambulation and fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt, nightmares, slower than average body movements, also known as bradykinesia, stiffness, instability, difficulty with coordination, and salivation.  This disease is known to affect people ages 50 and older.  Symptoms start off slowly and gradually intensify.  Daily activities will become more and more difficult.

In addition to the above symptoms, a person with Parkinson’s disease will have mood swings, loss of certain movements, such as smiling and blinking, swallowing and chewing problems, difficulty with speech, urinary and bowel difficulties and sleep disorders.  Memory may be affected in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is the result of dopamine, which is a chemical that sends messages to the brain, although this is unclear.  Some medications are thought to cause or make symptoms of Parkinson’s disease worse.  It is diagnosed based on the medical history of the patient and his or her family and/or their symptoms.  Having a relative with Parkinson’s disease does increase the risk of getting it.  A woman is less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than a man.  Doctors may also do brain scans and blood work to rule out other diseases.

Since there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms.  This is done by the use of medications such as Sinemet, Mirapex, Tasmar, and/or Requip.

Parkinson’s disease grows steadily worse over time.  This is different in everyone who has Parkinson’s and may manifest only a few symptoms or become full blown leaving a Parkinson’s patient with severe disabilities.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect that you may have Parkinson’s disease it is essential that you seek the medical care of your physician as soon as possible.  Early treatment will bring symptomatic relief from your disease.  Your doctor will be able to provide you with the best possible care in treating Parkinson’s disease and any follow up care that will be required in maintaining you at a stable level.

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