Parkinson’s Disease – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Many researchers have been working hard of finding a cure for Parkinson’s, but despite the best efforts of scientists from around the world, the search still continues. The good news is, however, that there are treatments available that can do a great deal to relieve the pain experienced by many Parkinson’s patients. Not all patients will need drugs or medication for their condition, and generally these are only recommended if the condition is having a detrimental effect on the patient’s lifestyle. Treatment is based on the amount of disruption caused by the patient´s symptoms, how advanced that patient’s condition is, and how severe the condition has become. There’s no guarantee that medication will help reduce the symptoms, although treatment usually does help to make life more comfortable for the patient.

Causes Parkinson’s disease

What causes PD is not known, there may be genetic causality, but the main pathological process involves degeneration of the SUBSTANTIA NIGRA, which is situated in the basal ganglia and is an area rich in dopamine cells. Dopamine is one of the major neurotransmitters, or naturally occurring chemicals, found in the brain. In PD there is a major depletion of dopamine, especially apparent in the fiber projection from the substantia nigra to the corpus striatum. Dopamine is believed to be the main, but not the only, neurotransmitter involved in PD.

There are some known toxins that can cause parkinsonism, most notoriously a chemical called MPTP, found as an impurity in some illegal drugs. Parkinsonian symptoms appear within hours of ingestion, and are permanent. MPTP may exert its effects through generation of toxic molecular fragments called free radicals, and reducing free radicals has been a target of several experimental treatments for PD using antioxidants.

Early loss of mental capacities is uncommon. However, persons with severe Parkinson’s may have overall mental deterioration (including dementia and hallucinations). Dementia can also be a side effect of some of the medications used to treat the disorder.

Parkinson’s in children appears to occur when nerves are not as sensitive to dopamine, rather than damage to the area of brain that produces dopamine. Parkinson’s in children is rare.

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Tremors — rhythmic movements or shaking, especially in the hands and particularly when they are at rest

Rigid limbs and trunk — muscle tenseness, stiffness, aching, or weakness

Slowness of movement — difficulty beginning a task, such as washing or dressin

Bradykinesia is the phenomenon of a person experiencing slow movements. In addition to slow movements, a person with bradykinesia will probably also have incomplete movement, difficulty initiating movements and sudden stopping of ongoing movement. People who have bradykinesia may walk with short, shuffling steps (this is called festination). Bradykinesia and rigidity can occur in the facial muscles, reducing a person’s range of facial expressions and resulting in a “mask-like” appearanc

Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

Drugs that replace dopamine are the most effective treatment. These drugs are combinations of levodopa, which breaks down in the body to form dopamine, and a chemical that ensures there is the right amount of dopamine in the brain. They are effective at treating symptoms and can provide long-term improvement, although there are some side-effects. These include nausea, dizziness and constipation. Also, they can cause long-term problems such as unwanted movements of the face and limbs (dyskinesia) and they may become less effective over time, with symptoms fluctuating suddenly – often called the on-off syndrome.

Modifying your activities and your home, such as simplifying your daily activities and changing the location of furniture so that you can hold on to something as you move around the house.

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