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Key Information About Parkinson's Disease

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Overview

Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. It is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.

The number of PD patients in the world more than doubled between 1990 and 2016, from 2.5 million to 6.1 million.

A relatively conservative projected doubling of the number of patients over the next 30 years would yield more than 12 million patients worldwide by about 2050.

Around one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson's disease.

Even though it is so prevalent, scientists are still unsure what causes it. Doctors only prescribe symptomatic treatments for the management of this condition.

Nerve Cell

key-information-about-parkinsons-disease

Causes

Parkinson's disease is caused by loss of nerve cells in part of the brain known as 'substantia nigra'.

When these vital cells begin to deteriorate, it causes a reduction of dopamine – a chemical that plays a key role in controlling and coordinating movement in the body.

This damage can lead to telltale tremors that people most typically associate with the disease, where the hands, arms, legs, lips, jaw or tongue become shaky when they are not in use.

The exact reason that causes deterioration of nerve cells is unknown, although research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This disease is more prevalent in men aged over 50.

Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women.

Evidence that Parkinson’s disease may start off in the gut is mounting, according to new research showing proteins (abnormally folded alpha-synuclein) thought to play a key role in the disease can spread from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain.

“It supports and really provides the first experimental evidence that Parkinson’s disease can start in the gut and go up the vagus nerve,” said Ted Dawson, professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University school of medicine and co-author of the research.

“There is still much we don’t fully understand when it comes to Parkinson’s, and there is a great global effort in current research to better our understanding of the protein alpha-synuclein and Parkinson’s,” said Beckie Port, Ph.D., research communications manager at the charity Parkinson’s UK.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, could increase the risk of brain degeneration as seen in Parkinson's disease, finds a study conducted on mice in May 2022.

key-information-about-parkinsons-disease

Symptoms

It can be hard to tell if you or a loved one has PD. The primary symptoms are all related to voluntary and involuntary motor function and usually start on one side of the body. Symptoms are mild at first and will progress over time.

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Loss of sense of smell, restless nights, muscle stiffness, incontinence, constipation, anxiety, difficulty balancing, nerve pain and depression could be early signs of this condition.

One often overlooked early sign is a loss of smell. Research conducted by the University of Auckland identified an anatomical link for the loss of smell in Parkinson’s disease.

A research study published in 2021 said: “As the most frequent and earliest type of psychotic phenomenon in Parkinson’s disease, minor hallucination can occur before the onset of motor symptoms.”

Problems with walking are common and bothersome to people with Parkinson’s disease.

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is challenging before patients develop motor symptoms such as tremor or other movement abnormalities.... By this time, significant neurological damage has occurred. Usually this is irreversible.

— Sarah F. Hamm-Alvarez, PhD.

Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Medicines prescribed for Parkinson's include:

  • drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain,
  • drugs that affect other brain chemicals in the body,
  • drugs that help control non-motor symptoms.

Combination of these medicines help patients curb the uncontrollable tremors, muscle stiffness and balance problems temporarily.

Globally, levodopa (or L-dopa) is the gold standard for treating Parkinson’s disease.

Once-daily treatment of opicapone, added to levodopa, has been found to increase the length of ON-periods in patients with Parkinson's disease.

Goal-oriented physical activity/exercise can lead to significant improvement in the ability to walk, and in the dexterity of hands/fingers.

Prevention

Eat fresh vegetables. Go organic. Include foods containing omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Consume raw vegetables. Meditate daily.

Ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D3. Drink green tea. Do yoga daily. Include foods that contain CoQ10 in your diet. Spinach, broccoli and cauliflower are rich in this antioxidant.

Ensure that stress does not have negative effect on your body and mind. Heartfulness way of life helps you in this endeavor.

Famous People With Parkinson’s Disease

Muhammad Ali

Johnny Cash

Michael J. Fox

Estelle Getty

Billy Graham

Pauline Kael

Deborah Kerr

Janet Reno

Pope John Paul II

 Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

World Parkinson Congress

World Parkinson Congress (WPC) is a global Parkinson’s event that opens its doors to all members of the Parkinson’s community, from neurologists and researchers to those living with the disease.

Myths

Parkinson's disease is a disease of older people.

There is not much that can be done to help a person with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is highly genetic.

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

Parkinson’s Awareness Month is observed in April. Parkinson’s Awareness Month is an opportunity to increase awareness about the ailment and its symptoms, as well as to support victims.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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