Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's. Most people who have it are over the age of 50 but it can occur at any age. 1 in 20 people affected by Parkinson’s are under the age of 40. Worldwide the disease affects 4.1 million patients, a number that is predicted to more than double to 8.7 million by 2030.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and typically develops gradually. The symptoms can vary from person to person and early signs may be subtle and can go unnoticed. Symptoms typically begin on one side of the body and usually remain worse on that side even after symptoms begin to affect both sides
Some of the most common symptoms are:
· Slowed motion
· Rigid muscles
· Impaired posture and balance
· Loss of automatic movements
· Speech changes
What causes Parkinson’s disease?
The exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, but several factors appear to play a role. Some of the factors that trigger symptoms seem include:
· Environmental triggers
· A lack of dopamine
· Low norepinephrine levels
· The presence of Lewy bodies – Lewy bodies are unusual protein clumps that are found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s
Risk factors for Parkinson’s include:
· Age: usually begins in middle or late life and the risk continues to increase with age
· Heredity: having a close relative with Parkinson’s increases your risk of developing it to about 4-6%
· Sex: men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women
· Exposure to toxins
How do you diagnosis Parkinson’s disease?
No definitive tests exist for Parkinson’s, so it can be difficult to diagnose especially in the early stages. A diagnosis is more likely if you have at least 2 of the common symptoms such as tremor, slowing of motion and muscle rigidity.
Is there treatment for Parkinson’s?
There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but medications can help control some of the symptoms. Levodopa is the most common and effective Parkinson’s drug and is usually combined with another drug to create Sinemet. Dopamin agonists are other common drugs. Physical therapy can help improve mobility, range of motion and muscle tone. Surgery may be helpful in some cases, and for some patients. Surgery includes deep brain stimulation which involves implanting an electrode deep within the parts of your brain that control movement. This type of treatment is most often used in people with advanced Parkinson’s.