Everything you need to know about Parkinson’s Disease
March 1, 2019
Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s disease in the world. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease, and the prevalence of Parkinson’s in the UK alone is one in 500, with a total of 127,000 people living with the disease.
The first signs individuals encounter with this disease are problems with their movement. Smooth and coordinated muscle movements of the body are made possible by a substance in the brain called Dopamine which is produced in a part of the brain called the “substantia nigra.”
In Parkinson’s, the cells of the substantia nigra start to die. When this happens, dopamine levels are reduced. When they have dropped 60 to 80 percent, symptoms of Parkinson’s start to appear.
The disease is not considered fatal, but people with Parkinson’s have a shorter life expectancy than the general population.
Most diagnosed cases occur in people over the age of 60, but it is not unusual for people to develop the disease much earlier in life, as was the case with actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed at age 30.
Early signs and symptoms:
The disease itself is a chronic, progressive illness characterised by motor symptoms which include the following:
- Tremors, especially in the fingers and feet
- Muscle stiffness
- Slowed movement
- Small handwriting
- Uncontrollable movements, especially when sleeping
- Noticeable changes to your voice, particularly a soft, low and hoarse tone.
- Stooped posture with a shuffling walk
- Loss of smell
- Dizziness or fainting
About a third of patients also develop dementia during the later stages of the disease.
Living with the disease:
Having one of these symptoms alone does not mean you have the illness. Contact your doctor if you are concerned you have more than one of the symptoms above. The condition is often difficult to diagnose in the early stages as Doctors don’t pinpoint most cases until a person is well into the initial stages. The motor symptoms such as the stiffness, general slowness, changes in posture and walking are often the most recognised and are associated with the disease.
You may not need any treatment during the early stages of Parkinson’s disease as symptoms are usually mild. However, you may need regular appointments with your Doctor so your condition can be monitored.
As It stands, there is currently no cure for the disease, but fortunately there are treatments and remedies available to help relieve symptoms and make life living with the illness more manageable.
These treatments include:
- Supportive therapies (such as physiotherapy and speech therapy)
- Surgery (in some cases)
Levadopa is one type of drug used to control symptoms for many years, and there are lots of other medications and remedies available for patients to try.
However, a new trial recently televised on BBC Two titled ‘The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A miracle cure’ discusses the possible treatment of administering drugs directly to the brain via a port in the side of the head.
Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a care plan should be agreed with your healthcare team and your family or carers. This will outline the treatments and help you need now and what you are likely to need in the future and this should be reviewed regularly.
Are you looking for advice for yourself or a loved one involving Parkinson’s? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Cavendish Homecare using our contact us page. We’re here to help.