Parkinson’s disease (PD) may be defined as a degenerative disorder of the nerves that attacks the central nervous system and damages it. The symptoms of this disease do not surface instantly rather they generally come on slowly over time.
The central nervous system that mainly consists of the brain, spinal cord and a network of nerves is responsible for ensuring coordination amongst various parts of the body.
In most case the symptoms of Parkinson’s do not emerge on the onset of the disease rather they show up gradually as the disease progresses.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
- Tremors or involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body
- slowing down of movements
- stiff and inflexible muscles
- reduced speech volume
A person with Parkinson’s disease experiences a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms, including:
- depression and anxiety
- problems in balancing the body
- loss of sense of smell
- sleeping disorders
- Loss of memory( in an advanced stage of the disease)
What does Parkinson’s do to the brain?
In the brain , cells constantly make dopamine, a chemical that carries messages to and from the brain. For e.g.: when an individual needs to itch or jump into the pool, dopamine quickly conveys a message to the nerve cell that controls that movement and that is how the brain and the body coordinate in carrying out the desired action .
In a normal human being who’s system is in working condition, the body moves smoothly and evenly and perform these actions accurately. But, for a person suffering from Parkinson’s, the cells begin to die and there is no replacing them. Thereby the dopamine levels begins to die down and you can’t kick off as many messages to control your mind and body as required leading to delayed or no coordination at all .
Stages of Parkinson’s:
Parkinson’s disease (PD) impacts people in different ways. Everyone may not necessarily experience all the symptoms of Parkinson’s, and in case they do, they neednot experience them in quite the same order or at the same intensity. There are typical patterns of progression in Parkinson’s disease that can be broadly categorized into the following stages.
During this initial stage, the person has mild symptoms that generally do not intervene with daily activities. Tremor and other movement symptoms occur on one side of the body only. A person might experience Changes in posture, difficulty in walking and change of facial expressions.
Symptoms start getting worse. Tremor, rigidity and other movement symptoms start to affect both sides of the body. Problems in walking and change in posture now tends to become evident. Daily routine begins to get affected and living alone can be slightly difficult.
This is considered as mid-stage, loss of balance and slowness of movements now tend to hamper the daily activities of an individual. Falls are more common since balancing the body is difficult. The person is still fully independent, but symptoms significantly impair activities such as eating and putting on one’s clothes.
At this point, symptoms tend to get severe and limit the person to doing very few or no activity on their own. It becomes Impossible to stand without assistance, although slight movement may be attempted with the help of a walker. Assistance is required for almost all the activities of a daily routine.
This is the most advanced and stage. Stiff legs may make it impossible to stand or walk. The person requires a wheelchair or in certain cases might be confined to the bed completely .nursing care is required for all activities. A person may also experience hallucinations and delusions due to constant attacks on the brain.
The trouble starts somewhere in the brain cells and they gradually begin to intervene with the smooth and efficient functioning of the body.
The cells in the brain that are responsible for sending and receiving instructions and performing corresponding action gradually begin to die and this in turn hampers the day to day working of the diseased.
In an area of your brain called the Substantia Nigra, cells that make the chemical dopamine start to die. When the cells that make dopamine start to die, the dopamine levels begin to drop. When it gets too low and one can’t control body movements as well you start to get Parkinson’s symptoms.
No specific test exists to diagnose Parkinson’s disease The diagnosis of this disease majorly relies on the signs and symptoms shown by an individual .
taking into consideration the medical history, a review of your signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination the severity of the disease and line of treatment May be defined .
Imaging tests — such as MRI, CT, ultrasound of the brain, and PET scans — may also be used to help rule out other disorders.
Single-photon emission computerized tomography SPECT scan called a dopamine transporter (DAT) scan may help in diagnosis
Treatments include medication and surgical therapy. Medications can help control your symptoms, often dramatically. In some cases, surgery may be advised. Other treatments include lifestyle modifications, like getting more rest and exercise. A balanced diet also provides nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, that might be beneficial for people with Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to these Exercising may increase your muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Exercise can also improve your well-being and reduce depression or anxiety
It is important to note that In the later stages of the disease, one tends to fall more easily. The following suggestions may help in avoiding these falls
- Make a U-turn instead of pivoting your body over your feet.
- Avoid carrying things while you walk.
- Avoid walking backward.