|people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease may experience slowness of movement/ Photo By adriaticfoto via Shutterstock|
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Some consider that it is a silent disease since the symptoms are not visible immediately to the patient and it generally develops slowly over years. The progression of the symptoms is often a bit different from one patient to another due to the diversity and nature of the disease. However, people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease may experience tremor in hands, bradykinesia or slowness of movement, the rigidity of the limbs, and having difficulty with gait and balance. They may also acquire some mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue. Everyone could be at risk to this disease, both men and women can have Parkinson’s disease, but studies show that the disease affects about 50 percent more men than women according to the online article published by the National Institute of Aging.
Furthermore, CNN noted that nearly half of women and a third of men over the age of 45 will likely to develop Parkinson’s, dementia, or stroke during their lifetime. “Usually we hear about heart disease and about cancer but for some reason, there is less focus on these diseases,” said lead researcher Kamran Ikram, associate professor of neurology and epidemiology at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They conducted a study which observed 12,102 individuals from Rotterdam over 26 years, carrying out full medical checks every four years, a total of 1,489 people were diagnosed with dementia, while 1,285 with stroke, and 263 with Parkinson’s over the course of the study which started in 1990 to 2016. The risk of developing Parkinson's disease was near equal for both genders, but men have 4.9% risk of developing the disease than 4.3% in women.
|Parkinson’s disease has five stages and these stages/ Photo By Photographeeeu via Shutterstock|
The Guardian mentioned in their article the same study which estimates that the beginning of dementia, parkinsonism, and stroke was delayed by one to three years, and these findings could strengthen the call for prioritizing the focus on preventative interventions at the population level, which could hopefully reduce the burden of common neurological diseases in the aging population. The remaining risk of developing the conditions among 45-year-olds and more than 50% in those older than 85.
Five stages of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease has five stages and these stages define the typical patterns of progression in Parkinson’s disease. The first stage is when the person experiences mild symptoms that don’t really interfere with their daily activities. The tremors and other movement symptoms will be visible and their posture, walking, and facial expressions will eventually change. Stage two is when the symptoms are gradually becoming worse. Tremor, rigidity and other movement symptoms will affect both sides of the body and their daily tasks will be more difficult and it will take time for the patient to finish their tasks.
|patient with Parkinson’s disease lacks dopamine in their brain/ Photo By tonkid via Shutterstock|
Stage three is considered mid-stage and is characterized by loss of balance and slowness of movement. Parkinsonsdisease.net mentioned on their website that the balance of the patient will be compromised as they try to make rapid, automatic, and involuntary adjustments necessary to prevent falling, and falls are common at this stage. It is advisable to consult a physician who will conduct diagnosis to the patient by running physical tests. Meanwhile, stage four of the Parkinson’s disease is more severe and the patient’s movement will be limited, and it is going hard for them to stand without an assistance from other person or from a walker. The fifth stage is the most advanced and could make the patient weaker because their legs will experience stiffness which would make it impossible for them to stand or walk, and they might also experience hallucinations and delusions.
Although there is no current cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are still treatments available in order to help in relieving the symptoms and maintain the normal life of the patient who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Treatment for each person with Parkinson’s is based on the severity of their symptoms, and these include medication and surgical therapy. Before the patient undergoes medication, he/she should consult a doctor since they must be individually evaluated in order to determine the appropriate drug or combination of medications that are best for them.
Parkinsons.org explained that the first choice of the drug might be one of the levodopa preparations, and for others, an initial prescription may be given for one of the agonists, an MAO inhibitor or an anticholinergic. Levodopa is absorbed by the nerve cells in the brain and turned into the chemical dopamine since the patient with Parkinson’s disease lacks dopamine in their brain. This will be able to transmit messages between the parts of the brain and nerves that control movement and it will mimic and replenish the effects of dopamine in their brain.
Therapies are also recommended to make the life of the patient with Parkinson’s disease to be more bearable and will help them deal with the daily symptoms of the disease on their daily life. Some of the available therapies are physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy.