What You Should Know About Parkinson

Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive disease that typically affects individuals over age 50. Progressive means it worsens over time and chronic means that it persists over a long period of time. Parkinson’s is a brain disease that affects the motor skills and muscle movements.

The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are tremor, or a trembling in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; a rigidity, or stiffness of the trunk and of the limbs; slowness of movement; and lastly instability of posture, or impaired balance and coordination. As the disease progresses individuals may have difficulty walking, talking, or doing simple tasks.

At the onset of Parkinson’s the symptoms are subtle and they occur very slowly over time. The disease may progress quickly for some and not for others. The shaking, and tremors will begin to interfere with the performance of tasks over time. Other than the four main symptoms the other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are depression, difficulty when swallowing or chewing, difficulty speaking, having difficulty urinating, constipation, skin issues, and sleep disturbances.

The diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease is made by medical history and a neurological examination. At the present time there is no laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis. It can be difficult for doctors to diagnose Parkinson’s. Brain scans or laboratory tests may be done to rule out other diseases in an attempt to come up with a diagnosis.

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s but there are medications that can be used to bring relief from the symptoms. The most common drug therapy is levodopa combined with carbidopa. Other medicines used are anticholinergics, bromocriptine, pramipexole, ropinirole, rasagiline, and amantadine.

When medications do not relieve the symptoms surgery may be necessary. There is a therapy called deep brain stimulation (DBS) used to decrease the involuntary movements and to alleviate fluctuations of symptoms and to help reduce the tremors, slowness of movements, and any issues with walking.

Not every patient experiences Parkinson’s in the exact same manner. Some individuals experience symptoms to the point where they become severely disabled, while others experience only minor motor symptoms. The disease may differ regarding which symptom is the major symptom as for some individual’s tremors becomes the major symptom and for others with Parkinson’s the major symptom is impaired balance and coordination. The severity of the symptoms can vary from one Parkinson’s patient to the next also.

New research is being done in order to develop new drug therapies and to search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Well-known individuals who have Parkinson’s include actor Michael J. Fox, ruler of Cuba for 46 years, Fidel Castro and Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Sturrock.

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