Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects your movement. Symptoms start slowly, usually beginning with a barely noticeable tremor in one hand. Although tremors are common, this disorder also causes slowing of motion or stiffness.
In the early phase of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little to no expression. Your arms might stop swinging when you walk. Your speech may become slurred or soft. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease worsen as your condition keeps evolving.
Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may not be the same for everyone. Early-stage signs are usually mild and go unchecked. Symptoms often show on one side of your body and worsen on that side, even after these symptoms begin to affect both your sides.
Parkinson’s signs and symptoms include:
- Tremor- A tremor usually begins in a limb, usually your fingers or hand. You may start rubbing your forefinger and thumb back and forth, also known as a pill-rolling tremor. Your hand may even tremble when it is at rest.
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)- Over time, your actions may slow down, making simple tasks time-consuming and difficult. You may take shorter steps when you walk. It can become challenging to get out of your chair. Also, you may drag your feet as you start to walk.
- Rigid muscles- Muscle stiffness can happen in any area of your body. These stiff muscles are painful and can limit your range of motion.
- Impaired posture and balance- Your posture may have a stooped posture, or you may have balancing problems.
- Loss of automatic movements- Your ability to perform unconscious movements like smiling, blinking, or swinging your arms when you walk may reduce.
- Speech changes- You may speak quickly, softly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech might become monotone instead of having regular inflexions.
- Writing changes- You may find it hard to write, and your writing may become small.
Consult an experienced neurosurgeon if you have any of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Not only to diagnose your problem but also to eliminate other possible causes.
Although the causes of Parkinson’s disease are unknown, many factors appear to play a role, including:
- Genes: Studies have determined specific genetic mutations that could cause Parkinson’s disease. However, these are uncommon except in some rare cases where many family members were affected by Parkinson’s disease.
- Environmental triggers: Exposure to some toxins may increase the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease later on, but the risk is minimal.
Risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include:
- Age: Parkinson’s disease normally starts in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People develop this disease after 60 years or older.
- Heredity: If you have a close relative with Parkinson’s disease, your chances to develop the disease slightly increase. However, if you have many family members with Parkinson’s disease, your risk might increase as well.
- Gender: Men are likely to get affected by Parkinson’s disease more than women.
- Exposure to toxins: Continuous exposure to pesticides and herbicides can slightly elevate your risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease doesn’t have a cure, but some medications can help you control its symptoms.
Although doctors cannot completely provide treatment for Parkinson’s disease, they can prescribe medications that can assist in improving the symptoms.
Drugs that make dopamine
Parkinson’s affects your nerve cells in the brain that create a chemical called dopamine. As a result, levels of dopamine fall. Your doctor usually starts treatment with levodopa (L-dopa) that your brain turns it into dopamine.
However, levodopa can make your stomach sick, so you will probably intake it with another medicine called carbidopa. This combination drug is known as carbidopa-levodopa (Parcopa, Rytary, Sinemet).
Boosting dopamine’s effects
Your doctor may give you one of these medications, alone or as a combination drug:
- Dopamine agonists: They act like dopamine but do not raise levels of it in your brain. You can intake any medicine that has levodopa. You can try ropinirole (Requip ), pramipexole (Mirapex).
- COMT Inhibitors: They assist levodopa last longer. You might get medications like entacapone (Comtan) or tolcapone (Tasmar).
- MAO-B inhibitors: These medications do not allow your brain to break down levodopa. You may get rasagiline (Azilect) or selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar)
Drugs to manage tremors
Your doctor may prescribe something to reduce and treat the tremors that come with Parkinson’s. Such medications are called anticholinergics, and they stop the chemical in your brain that manages movement. You may be prescribed trihexyphenidyl (Artane) or benztropine mesylate (Cogentin)
If medication does not work, your doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation (DBS). In DBS, a doctor will implant electrodes deep in your brain. A connected device delivers electrical pulses to them. Those pulses can assist in controlling the tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease.
If you feel that Parkinson’s disease might be the cause of your condition, consult a neurologist. They can help you diagnose and provide proper treatment as per your situation. Do not hesitate, remember the more you let your condition elevate, the more troublesome and painful it will become over time.