What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive movement disorder which is chronic in nature. It is a nervous system disease which mainly affects the motor system (a part of CNS responsible for body part movements.), characterised by increasing loss of muscle control. This disease is a type of movement disorder that happens when the nerve cells do not produce enough of the brain chemical called dopamine. It involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain called neurons.
- Tremor: shaking can occur at rest, in the hands or fingers, limbs, or can be posture too.
- Weakness in the body: dizziness, weariness, poor balance, or restlessness.
- Cognitive: confusion, or difficulty thinking and understanding.
- Sleep: early awakening, nightmares, or restlessness.
- Muscular rigidity: difficulty in walking or standing, rhythmic muscular contractions, involuntary movements, slow bodily movements, stiff muscles.
- Speech: impaired voice, soft speech, quickly, or hesitate before talking.
- Mood: apathy or anxiety.
- Also common: blank stare, depression, drooling, weight loss, falling, loss of contrast sensitivity, neck tightness, small handwriting, trembling.
Parkinson’s disease is caused due to impairment of neurons. A chemical substance called dopamine acts as a messenger between two brain areas – the corpus striatum and the substantia nigra to produce effective, controlled movements. The actions become impaired when the amount of dopamine is too low or decreases, or when the communication between the substantia nigra and corpus striatum becomes ineffective. The greater the loss of dopamine, the worse the movement related symptoms get.
Still, the cause of disease is unknown, but several factors appear to play a role
- Genetic factors
Except in rare cases with many family members affected by Parkinson’s disease researchers have found specific genetic mutations that can cause this disease but these are very uncommon.
- Environmental factor
Some scientists have identified the reasons that Parkinson’s disease may result from exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors that may increase the risk of later Parkinson’s disease, but the risk is relatively less.
Parkinson’s disease is incurable. Medications help to control your symptoms, and you can manage problems with walking, tremor, and movements. These medicines increase or substitute for dopamine, a specific signalling chemicals in your brain. Doctors may recommend changes in everyday lifestyle especially ongoing aerobic exercises. In other cases, physical therapy that focuses on stretching and balance is also necessary. A speech-language therapy pathologist may help improve your speech problems.
1 in 100 people is diagnosed over the age of 60. On the other hand, some people are diagnosed at the age of 40 or younger. According to an estimation, in 2015, 6.2 million people were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And in the same year, it caused 117,400 deaths. The rate is on rising with years ahead; it’s high time we need to start to initiate the talking about Parkinson’s Disease. Moreover, living with any chronic illness is difficult, and it’s all normal to feel sad or anxious at times.
Friends and family are the best support for a person to talk or just spend time. Hence, it’s a good habit to check on our loved ones once in a while to make sure all is well with them.