Parkinson’s disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help
About parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system that affects the body’s movements and coordination. The central nervous system is responsible for coordination of all the activities of the body. Parkinson’s disease is a life-long disorder and its management involves multi-disciplinary measures to enable the affected individual lead a productive and independent life.
Parkinson’s disease: Incidence, age and sex
The disease occurs in all ethnic populations. The onset of disease is observed generally around the age of 55-60 years and its incidence is uncommon before the age of 50 years. The prevalence is slightly more in men as compared with women.
Signs and symptoms of parkinson’s disease: Diagnosis
The disease usually has a gradual onset and progresses with time. The typical presentation includes tremors or shaking of hands or legs which occur at rest and disappear on movement. Stiffness of the muscles of neck, trunk and limb is an early feature. The individual may experience difficulty in initiating voluntary movements (like getting up from a chair or walking) of body. Performing daily activities such as dressing and bathing become extremely difficult. The individual is not able to maintain a proper body posture and experiences imbalance. The face may become devoid of expressions and speech becomes slower and monotonous. Constipation and sleep problems are generally present. As the disease progress, behavioural changes like depression, anxiety, apathy, and delusions can be observed. Overall the quality of life is significantly reduced and the individual suffers from disability.
The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is entirely based upon the history and clinical examination.Investigations like certain blood tests, CT and MRI scan may be done to exclude other causes.
Causes and prevention of parkinson’s disease
The exact cause of the disease is not known. However, certain drugs, head injury, brain disorders or other degenerative conditions may trigger the development of this disease. Parkinson’s disease results due to destruction of dopamine producing brain cells. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter in the brain controlling numerous functions of the body such as movement, sleep and memory. Regular physical exercise and physiotherapy may help in slowing down the progress of disease.
Parkinson’s disease: Complications
Parkinson’s disease leads to functional disability which hampers the daily activities of the affected individual. In advanced cases, the individual may have injuries from falls, become wheelchair-bound or bed ridden.
Parkinson’s disease: Treatment
The management of Parkinson’s disease is multidisciplinary and includes medications, surgery and supportive therapy. The treatment depends entirely upon the stage of disease progression. The medications do not alter the progression of the disease but enables the patient to live a functional and independent life. The aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms so that the individual is able to perform his daily activities with reasonable efficiency. Levodopa is the principal drug of choice in the treatment of the disease. A good response to the drug is seen in most of the cases. Other medications like Amantadine, Anticholinergics, are useful in decreasing the tremors. Regular exercise, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are important for improving mobility and promoting the quality of life. Dietary advice from a nutritionist is useful for maintaining proper balanced diet. Educating the patient and his family members also plays an important role in management of the disease.